Elderly individuals and others thought of to have an elevated danger from Covid-19 may very well be requested to remain at dwelling below radical plans being drawn as much as avert a second nationwide lockdown, the Telegraph can disclose.
Boris Johnson has requested officers to organize a collection of doable measures that would assist keep away from shutting down the financial system for a second time, after he mentioned that he needed to keep away from one other lockdown.
The choices embody a programme of “enhanced” or “differential” shielding, as a part of which weak individuals could be requested to stay at dwelling whereas the remainder of the inhabitants continued to maneuver round freely. One proposal is for the shielded group to be allotted particular instances of the week to have unique entry to some providers and outlets.
The potential measures additionally embody imposing a city-wide lockdown on London if an infection charges spike within the capital and tightening quarantine restrictions on these flying into the UK.
A fourth measure contains “harder” native lockdowns than the restrictions imposed on elements of Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, the place individuals from totally different households had been barred from assembly indoors.
The disclosure comes after the Prime Minister introduced that he was suspending the deliberate easing of lockdown measures as a consequence of happen this weekend amid heightened issues a couple of doable second wave of infections.
Last month Mr Johnson advised the Telegraph that the choice of a second nationwide lockdown was now akin to a “nuclear deterrent”, saying he “certainly” doesn’t need one other blanket shutdown, “and nor do I think we will be in that position again”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps lead the World Health Organisation’s pandemic response group, urges nations to not reimpose nationwide lockdowns in an try and stem the unfold of Covid-19 because of the well being, social and financial repercussions.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph discloses warnings by authorities advisers that hairdressers and barbers may very well be inadvertently transmitting Covid-19 to their clients on account of “inadequate” official steering stipulating that they need to put on visors relatively than masks.
Officials from the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 unit are understood to have recommended an enhanced shielding programme as a part of a sequence of doable alternate options to a nationwide lockdown.
Mr Johnson has now sanctioned the group to develop the choices into formal coverage proposals.
A senior Whitehall supply mentioned: “We are hopeful that fast action, regional lockdowns and quarantines will stop the need for any more substantive action. However we prepare for all scenarios, and officials are currently drawing up an array of policy options to present to the Prime Minister.”
More than two million individuals in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland who confronted the best danger of being hospitalised by Covid-19 has been requested to protect of their houses till Saturday, to keep away from contracting the virus. In Wales, the recommendation stays in place till August 16.
Under the proposals, a better variety of individuals could be requested to participate within the shielding programme, based mostly on their age or explicit danger components which were recognized since March.
Government analysis has discovered that, amongst individuals already recognized with Covid-19, individuals aged 80 or older had been 70 instances extra prone to die than these below 40. Officials have additionally said that folks with diabetes, coronary heart illness and dementia all look like at larger danger of demise.
A Government supply mentioned: “The shielding list was binary, you’re either on it or you’re not. Now we know more, we can be more sophisticated about it.”
Any proposal to ask individuals to stay of their houses on the premise of their age could be prone to immediate a major backlash. Lord Sumption, the previous Supreme Court decide, has said that shielding the outdated and weak till a profitable vaccine is developed would quantity to “a cruel mockery of basic human values”.
An possibility believed to be below dialogue as a part of the proposed scheme is encouraging “shielding afternoons” or “shielding hours” for essentially the most weak to entry outlets and providers with out fearing that they might come into contact with those that have been freely shifting round. The possibility comes after supermarkets launched precedence purchasing hours for the aged and weak initially of the nationwide lockdown in March.
Scientists have additionally recommended that such a programme would require “very intensive screening” of care dwelling employees, hospital medics, and members of a shielded particular person’s family, to make sure that these coming into contact with them are unlikely to transmit the virus.
An early proposal for enhanced shielding was set out in a paper by University of Edinburgh scientists in April.
They said: “If Covid-19 was circulating solely within the non-vulnerable inhabitants then the NHS might simply deal with the degrees of delicate illness, some hospitalisations and occasional important care. Numbers of deaths could be low.
“Therefore, if we could greatly reduce the incidence of infection in the vulnerable group the epidemic could be manageable. Shielding is intended to reduce the incidence; to do more we need ‘enhanced shielding.”
Another possibility into consideration is to stop Londoners from travelling outdoors of the M25 within the occasion of a significant spike within the capital. Quarantine measures for travellers touchdown within the UK may be elevated, on the premise that the primary wave within the nation started after a major variety of instances had been imported from overseas.
The Government can also be regarded as contemplating implementing a nationwide ban on individuals from totally different households assembly indoors, within the occasion that official figures present a continued rise of infections throughout the nation, and check and hint figures recommend that such social contact is partly accountable.
Last week Lord Sumption known as for the inhabitants to be allowed to make “our own personal risk assessments in the light of our age and state of health and the sort of activities in which we engage.”
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “For some people, social distancing will remain a sensible precaution. The rest of us should respect their choice but drop it and get on with our lives. We cannot keep running away.”