Downing Street and ministers deny 'October firebreak lockdown' plans

7 September 2021, 08:22 | Updated: 7 September 2021, 11:18

Will there be new rules on masks or a new lockdown?

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Downing Street and the Vaccines Minister have denied reports ministers are considering plans for a firebreak lockdown next month - if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

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The conversation comes after it was reported ministers have made plans for an October 'firebreak' lockdown with school half-term holidays set to double in length if Covid hospitalisations keep rising.

The claim was made by a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) who said the contingency plan has been put in place as a last resort in case the NHS comes under immense pressure.

LBC's Nick Ferrari questioned Nadhim Zahawi asking if the headlines were correct.

"Plans for an October firebreak, or new rules on masks. True or false?"

Mr Zahawi said he had not seen any plans around the so-called, firebreak lockdown.

"It is the booster program that, I hope, will allow us to protect the most vulnerable.

He said this would then allow the government to "continue on a one-way streak of keeping the economy open without having to regress into other non-pharmaceutical interventions."

The Minister said his focus was now on delivering the booster program

The conversation comes after one newspaper reported an October "firebreak lockdown" in England was being considered if the spike in hospitalisations continues.

The i also reported plans for restrictions during school half-term had been drawn up to deal with “an extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations.

Downing Street has denied that there is a plan to put in place a so-called "firebreak" lockdown in October if there is a new surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "No, it is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

"I think (vaccines minister) Nadhim Zahawi was asked a similar question this morning and made that clear as well.

"We have retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.

"I think we've been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS.

"But under the previous occasions when that action has been required, we have been without the significant defences that our vaccination programme provides us - we're now in a much different phase."

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