Tuesday 20 October 2020 1:04 pm

Rishi Sunak: Circuit breaker would be 'enormously damaging' to economy

A new circuit breaker lockdown would be “enormously damaging” for the economy and the government will continue to pursue a localised Covid approach, according to chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Sunak told MPs this morning that a two to three week lockdown, which Labour is recommending, would cause “unnecessary pain and suffering on those in parts of the country where virus prevalence is low”.

Read more: The Circuit Breakers should be honest about what they’re asking for: lockdown until Christmas and beyond

“A localised approach is the best option,” he said.

The government has publicly hardened its stance against the prospect of a national lockdown, after Sir Keir Starmer called for a two to three week circuit brekaer last week.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has also recommended a national lockdown.

Many Tory MPs have rallied against the prospect of another full lockdown, with one telling City A.M. that it would cause widespread insurrection on the backbenches, particularly from those who represent low infection rate constituencies.

The Sunday Times reported that behind closed doors many government figures accepted that a national lockdown will happen eventually, but that the decision was being delayed as rapid turnaround tests are almost ready for mass use.

Downing Street and other senior government figures are also becoming convinced that a vaccine will be available by the end of the year for the country’s most vulnerable.

Read more: Boris Johnson delaying choice on Covid lockdown as rapid testing nears

This may also be a factor in the government’s reluctance to immediately implement a two to three week lockdown.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam told MPs this week that “we aren’t light years away” from a vaccine.

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