The UK’s first local ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown could be imminent - here’s what it means

By Claire Schofield
Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 12:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 12:12 pm
Circuit breaker lockdowns could be introduced in response to a rise in infection rates (Photo: Shutterstock)
Circuit breaker lockdowns could be introduced in response to a rise in infection rates (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK’s first local ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown could be just days away from being imposed, in an effort to curb rapidly rising infection rates in one of the worst affected areas.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has admitted that a stricter lockdown in the northern city is “only a matter of days away”, after more than 1,000 coronavirus cases were confirmed there over the last seven days.

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How long would the lockdown last?

The so-called ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown would be a short-term measure, put in place for a period of two weeks. The new restrictions would see households banned from mixing indoors, while pubs and restaurants would be forced to close.

Liverpool recorded 1,306 coronavirus cases in just seven days - more than double the rate of the previous week.

Mayor Anderson has been in talks with senior government officials about the potential lockdown, which has been confirmed to The Telegraph by a Downing Street source, who reportedly said, “We are keeping a very close eye on it and if there is somewhere that additional measures are brought in it is likely to be in that area.”

The Mayor added that he believes it is “only a matter of time” before the measure is imposed, as the virus is unable to be controlled by the restrictions that are currently in place in the city.

He added that if Liverpool is faced with the “severest measures of lockdown now”, the virus could be under control by the end of October, with the hope that Christmas can bring about some sense of normality.

What is a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown?

A circuit breaker lockdown involves a two-week long national lockdown, which would see certain businesses forced to close or be regulated, including pubs, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.

Household mixing indoors would also be banned to help limit the risk of transmission, while travel would be limited to essential purposes only.

However, schools and essential workplaces would remain open, with the Prime Minister stating that keeping children in school is a “national priority”.

It is expected that such a lockdown in England could be timed over the half-term period at the end of October, so as to cause minimal disruption to education.

There have also been reports that circuit breaker lockdowns could be introduced sporadically by the government over the next six months in response to spikes in infection rates. The idea is intended to reduce virus transmission without needing to go into a full second national lockdown.