London could exit lockdown before rest of England, suggests PM's spokesman

Yahoo News UK
The Prime Minister's official spokesman has not ruled out London coming out of lockdown earlier than other parts of the country. (Picture: PA)
The Prime Minister's official spokesman has not ruled out London coming out of lockdown earlier than other parts of the country. (Picture: PA)

London could come out of lockdown at a different time to the rest of the country, depending on rates of infection, Downing Street has suggested.

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Asked whether lockdown measures could be eased quicker in London than other parts of the nation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “As we are able to gather more data and have better surveillance of a rate of infection in different parts of the country then we will be able to lift measures quicker in some parts of the country quicker than in others.

“And equally we will be able to put the brakes on in some parts of the country while not having to do so in other parts.”

Asked whether the comments, reported by the Press Association news agency, reflect government policy, a Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed they reflected what the PM’s official spokesman had said.

National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis previously said it was important that national measures were put in place, but did also go on to suggest that at some point individual outbreaks might be tackled in different ways.

Speaking at the government’s daily briefing on Wednesday, Prof Powis said: “Clearly it’s important that we have national measures in terms of lockdown measures and social distancing and I think that is the best way overall to approach this.

“But as we get to a point where we are talking about individual outbreaks then there will be a need for interventions around these outbreaks and in fact that’s no different from the public health response that occurs for any outbreak of an infectious disease.

“A set of measures will be taken by public health colleagues either in local councils or with Public Health England to ensure that a particular outbreak in a particular area is taken under control so that is well tried and tested public health policy.”

The latest suggestions of the capital’s lockdown ending at a different time to other parts of the country come as plans to manage London’s recovery from the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic were unveiled.

A new strategy included the establishment of a new London Transition Board co-chaired by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick, which will co-ordinate the capital’s response to issues and risks arising from lockdown being lifted.

The board, made up of senior leaders from across the city, will work on issues including the control of the infection and the phasing in and out of various levels of lockdown.

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