A well-placed source from Whitehall told the Sunday Express that the blackout proposal pushed by scientists at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) would in fact lead to a permanent lockdown. The main source said Downing Street resists a blackout because “when you do it once you have to keep doing it and there is no end.” The government also doesn’t believe the country can afford another bailout like the £ 300bn in March or create thousands of jobs again.
According to the main source, measures to protect businesses and jobs during the initial lockdown mean “public finances are slaughtered” and “tough decisions are going to have to be made” to get them back into shape.
The revelations come as the feud between the government and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to place Britain’s third-highest city in the highest Level 3 restrictions escalated yesterday.
It also emerged that left-wing Welsh Labor Prime Minister Mark Drakeford had unilaterally decided to use Wales as a guinea pig for a blackout by putting the Principality in full lockdown for three weeks.
A message to common carriers informed them that the outage will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday October 23 and end one minute after midnight on Monday November 9.
This will take Wales back to the dark days of the national lockdown with the closure of all shops except essential stores, as well as hairdressers, pubs, beauticians and restaurants.
Boris Johnson urges people to avoid travel
A decision will be made during the lockdown on whether to reopen Welsh schools on schedule on Monday 2 November after their two week break.
Conservative Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams called the move “utter madness”.
He stressed that West Wales, including his constituency, has “very low infection rates” and warned that a blackout would be bad for jobs and businesses.
He said: ‘At my headquarters we want to feed the nation, by that I mean the whole UK and not just Wales, or welcoming the nation, agriculture, hospitality and tourism are very important, so this kind of movement is very harmful and totally unnecessary. “
He accused Mr Drakeford of using “dangerous language” in closing the border to the British and said he had “not given the local lockdowns enough time to see if they are working”.
The main Downing Street source pointed to what happened in Bradford where a two week ‘blackout’ lockdown was imposed and the city of Yorkshire is still closed over six weeks later with a rate of higher infection.
A senior scientist also supported the government’s concerns about blackouts.
Professor Mark Woolhouse, a government pandemic adviser, said he reluctantly accepted the need for new restrictions to stem the tide of coronavirus, but insisted they had to be proportionate and “based on proofs”.
Speaking in a personal capacity, the infectious diseases professor at the University of Edinburgh said: ‘Doing nothing is not an option, but there should be a debate about what exactly we are doing. Everything we do has to be demonstrated to be effective, but if that was the only consideration, we would just do what we did in March. Nobody wants that. We must not overreact, we need proportionate and evidence-based measures and, most importantly, they must be sustainable.
“We have to remember that a circuit breaker is just another type of interlock and only postpones the problem. It does not shut it down.
Stricter social distancing ‘might defer the problem, not solve it’
“I don’t see an end to circuit breakers or restrictions unless we get to the root of the problem. There is a real possibility of a third wave after this and it could go on for months and years if nothing major changes. It is disappointing that we have nothing better to offer. Locks do irrevocable damage and there are much better ways to protect people than that.
In Manchester, Mr Burnham resisted taking the city from Tier 2 to Tier 3 by shutting down hospitality businesses and yesterday denied that a phone call had been made with the Prime Minister to resolve the issue.
Instead, Mr Burnham wants a nationwide blackout, even though areas like Cornwall and Norfolk have very low covid infection rates.
It emerged yesterday that Mr Johnson, who has expressed ‘serious concerns’ about the infection rate in Manchester, did not impose Level 3 because he was not convinced the police would enforce it.
But there remains huge criticism of the measures the government is taking to try to control the coronavirus, with many conservatives believing it to be too bad for the economy.
Manchester has been rated level 2 but people are asking for a higher alert
A former cabinet minister was warned by police chiefs that they were “bracing for riots and civil unrest in the spring” amid anger over the lockdown measures and a possible economic collapse during the ‘winter.
Mr Johnson also received a letter from five senior Tories who represent the Essex seats – Sir Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the liaison committee; Robert Halfon, chairman of the education committee, vice-chairman Eleanor Laing; and backbenchers Giles Watling and Stephen Metcalfe.
They said: “Businesses in our constituencies are very clear about the negative impact of Level 2 restrictions, especially in the hospitality industry. Many fear they will have to shut down for good. Pubs and restaurants were thriving again, but most now feel they have to bear the majority of their costs to stay open, but with only 30-40% of customers. ”
They pointed out that the coronavirus 80% job retention program ended on October 31 and that there were no new grants.
Police chiefs prepare for riots and civil unrest in spring
“[Businesses] are in a much worse situation than in the spring, ”they noted.
“Please see the level of financial support in place for businesses subject to these restrictions. This is necessary to avoid permanent economic damage to the local and national economy and it must also apply to other parts of England.
With the government increasingly under siege over its coronavirus policies, the Sunday Express has learned that Mr Johnson gave his staff at Downing Street a cheering speech to boost morale last week.
A source said: “The Prime Minister reminded us that we are doing an excellent public service in this time of national crisis for this country and that we are saving lives and doing great things.”
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