Second lockdown could be extended beyond 2 December, Gove admits

‘We are going to review it on 2 December’, Cabinet minister says - after Boris Johnson insisted it was time-limited

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 01 November 2020 10:48 GMT
Michael Gove admits the national lockdown could be extended beyond December 2

The second lockdown will only be “reviewed” on its scheduled end date of 2 December and could be extended, Michael Gove has admitted.

The prime minister – when announcing the restrictions, to start on Thursday – insisted it was time-limited, unlike the first shutdown in March.

But Mr Gove, asked if it could be extended, replied: “Yes”. He added: “We are going to review it on 2 December – we are always driven by the data.”

Mark Walport, a member of the Sage advisory group of scientists, warned the lockdown could be longer than the first, saying: “It’s obviously a possibility, yes.”

The admission came as Boris Johnson faced a torrent of criticism for the dramatic U-turn of announcing the second lockdown he had long insisted would not be necessary.

But Mr Gove denied the regional three-tier approach had been “a failure” – insisting Covid-19 had spread faster than anyone had anticipated just a few weeks ago.

Asked about the Sage recommendation for a two-week “circuit break – made way back on 21 September – the Cabinet Office minister claimed: “It was not necessary at that point.”

The measures, which will not kick in until 5 November to allow MPs to approve them on Wednesday, include:

* Shutting pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops, along with entertainment and leisure venues – including gyms – and hairdressers and beauty salons.

* Travel, including abroad, allowed for specific purposes only – for work, education, healthcare, to shop for essentials and to care for vulnerable people.

* A ban on mixing with other households inside homes – although people will be allowed to meet with one person outdoors from another household and sit with them in a park.

* But schools, colleges and universities will remain open, despite the main teaching union calling for schools to close.

Mr Gove, speaking on Sky News, admitted there could be more deaths in the second wave of the pandemic, saying: “Yes, that is the real danger.”

And he warned the public it would be “foolish” to predict the course of the pandemic over the next four weeks.

“With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks' time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown,”

Mr Johnson’s effective deputy said. “And so therefore of course we will review what requires to be done but we have a clear plan over the next four-week [period] to support the economy and to protect the NHS.”  

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