Robert Jenrick: Local lockdowns are 'only sustainable route' for living with Covid-19

27 May 2020, 08:51 | Updated: 28 May 2020, 10:34

Housing Minister says there is no alternative to 'local lockdowns'

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has told LBC introducing local lockdowns where there are flare-ups of Covid-19 - is the "only sustainable route" for us to live with the virus.

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC there is no alternative to local lockdowns as the country struggles to recover from coronavirus.

Nick Ferrari asked the Secretary of State how the idea that housing estates could become subject to 'local lockdowns' after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing the Government "will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups."

Mr Jenrick said, "if we can get our track, trace and test system set up across the country if there is a flare-up in a particular community, or somewhere that's even more micro than that, like a school or workplace, hospital, then we'll be able to ask those people who've come into close contact with the individuals who've got the virus to stay at home, to self-isolate for a short period of time."

The Government Minister said this would mean the lockdown could be eased for the "rest of society."

Robert Jenrick was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari
Robert Jenrick was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari. Picture: LBC

Nick Ferrari said he was a "little bit concerned" by some of the Minister's comments, "you said IF we can get our test, track and trace system up. The Prime Minister told us it'll be a 'world beater' by Monday. Why the 'if?"

Mr Jenrick said the Government wanted to have a world-class system, and they were "working towards" this.

He clarified "the system is there, it's going to be rolled out across the country in the days ahead."

He added it has "huge potential for all of our daily lives, enabling us to get back to normality."

When pressed on when it would be rolled out, the senior Minister said he did not want to preempt an announcement by the Health Secretary.

Nick Ferrari pressed Mr Jenrick on whether it would be rolled out by Monday, as the Prime Minister had pledged, with the Minister saying it would "start on Monday, as the Prime Minister has said."

Local lockdowns will be in future coronavirus plans

Using the city of Durham as an example Nick Ferrari asked how it would work when just one housing estate in an area was locked down, to which Mr Jenrick said he thought it would be "tough."

He added that with local lockdown in place a "small number of us have to obey the rules, stay at home, self-isolate. In return for the rest of society having greater freedom, and ability to go to school and begin to rebuild our economy."

"You will be contacted if you've been in close proximity with somebody who has been symptomatic," Mr Jenrick said.

When Nick Ferrari asked if he had concerns it would be tougher for people living on council estates the Housing Minister said: "it is going to be more difficult for those people who live or work in close proximity to others."

"But as I say, what is the alternative. The alternative is for the whole of society to be locked down for a very long period of time."

Watch the whole exchange in the video at the top of the page.

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