Friday, 30 Oct 2020

Circuit breaker lockdown: What does circuit breaker lockdown mean?

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In recent weeks the number of coronavirus cases in the UK have shot up, prompting concerns a second lockdown could be implemented. In September Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a number of stricter lockdown measures with the aim of reducing coronavirus cases.

Curfews were introduced for hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants a few weeks ago, while the rules on face coverings were also extended to other premises.

But Mr Johnson urged the public to stick to the new measures and noted he would not hesitate to introduce stricter lockdown measures if needed.

This week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suggested further lockdown measures could be introduced in the country to stem the rising number of coronavirus cases.

Ms Sturgeon referred to potential stricter measures as a ‘circuit breaker’, which other nations have implemented globally to deal with rising cases.

What is a circuit breaker lockdown?

A circuit breaker lockdown would see a period of time where stricter lockdown measures are introduced.

In theory, a circuit breaker could see the UK lockdown rules return to those seen at the start of the lockdown earlier this year.

However, the Government may want to avoid a lockdown as harsh as what was implemented earlier this year.

Instead, the country could see hospitality and non-essential businesses close temporarily, and a ban on social gatherings could be introduced.

The Government has made clear it wants to keep children in school, so it is unlikely schools would be forced to close again for a long period of time in the case of a circuit breaker lockdown.

Mr Johnson has stressed he wants to avoid another full lockdown, but has acknowledged he will have to introduce stricter measures if people do not follow the rules.

The PM said last month the Government does “reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions”.

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What would a circuit breaker lockdown look like for Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon said a circuit breaker lockdown could be introduced as early as this week in Scotland, but did not outline exactly what this would entail.

Some reports have indicated a ‘circuit breaker’ could be implemented over the October break for schools in Scotland to reduce the impact on education, but this has not been confirmed.

Ms Sturgeon said: “A ‘circuit breaker’ could mean a lot of different things, so what we are looking at is what further restrictions may be necessary to get the virus back under control.

“That could be a number of different things, but equally it could well be that a number of different things are not included and it’s not something that is anything like the lockdown that we had in March.

“We have some considerations this afternoon where I and clinical advisors will look at the current state of the epidemic, we’ll look at the geography of the spread, we’ll look at the demographics of the spread.

“I know why people talk about a circuit breaker, but it’s one of these terms that I think different people use to mean a whole range of different things.

“I think it’s important we focus on the components that would form part of any package of measures that we might choose to take and I think it’s really important we do that in an orderly and systematic way.”

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