Robert Jenrick: Local lockdowns 'haven't given results we would have wanted'

8 October 2020, 08:45 | Updated: 8 October 2020, 09:30

By Maddie Goodfellow

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has admitted that the government has "not yet seen the results that it would have wanted" in many areas under local lockdown.

In total, at least 17 million people are currently facing additional restrictions in addition to their national rules across the UK, around a quarter of the population.

Speaking about the local lockdown traffic light system that the government is expected to enforce, Mr Jenrick said: "Cases are rising in the North West, the North East and other areas like Nottingham, near my own constituency.

"There is a serious situation there and we are working with local leaders.

"We haven't made a decision on that yet, but the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are working on this now and will make a statement shortly."

It has been suggested that the government is looking at moving the rules surrounding the coronavirus in England to a three-tier ‘traffic light’ system.

They would aim to simplify the current state of local lockdowns around the country, so each area would know whether it was in Level 1, 2 or 3. The levels could be applied either nationally or in local areas.

Read more: What are the three tier lockdown ‘traffic light’ plans and how would they work?

When asked about transmission in pubs and restaurants, Mr Jenrick said: "The longer you spend with people indoors, the faster the virus will pass on.

"It is true that we have not yet seen the results that we would have wanted in many of those local areas, and that is extremely frustrating.

Read more: Calls grow for government to explain logic of 10pm curfew

Read more: Tougher restrictions planned for northern England include pub and restaurant closures

"However that doesn't mean that the rate of transmission would be less if we hadn't taken these. It would have been higher."

The government is being pushed to reveal its data to suggest that Covid-19 transmission levels are high in pubs and restaurants after questions were raised by MPs and hospitality bosses.

The Government has already announced a further £60 million for Covid patrols around the UK.

When questioned on this, Mr Jenrick explained: "We're going to be giving some extra money to councils to do some very light touch enforcement, it is not Covid patrols.

"Local council workers may be going around pubs, restaurants and cafes to see if they're following the track and trace procedure and helping to advise them, talking to people on the street and welcoming them to city centres.

"This is already working in areas such as Leeds and Westminster.

Read more: MPs launch inquiry to scrutinise Government handling of covid crisis

Read more: Scotland faces new restrictions in a bid to curb Covid-19 cases

"So we're not going to be having enforcement officers peering through letterboxes, that's not the kind of country that I want to live in, but we will help people enforce the rules through light touch enforcement."

Speaking about the case where a boy was prevented from comforting his mother at her husband's funeral due to social distancing measures, Mr Jenrick said: "I certainly don't want to see another example like that, we can be compassionate and maintain our values whilst keeping people safe."

Mr Jenrick also explained that police will also receive extra funding to help council staff enforce the rules.

He explained: "Council staff are not going to be expected to enforce the rules, they are there to engage and advise.

"But the police will need to step in when there are particularly egregious examples, so they will receive extra funding in order to do so, as this will put more pressure on them.

"It is right that the responsibility falls on the police not local councils. They son't want to do that role and we are not asking them to.