ELDERLY people could be asked to stay at home under bombshell new plans drawn up to avoid a second UK-wide coronavirus lockdown.
Boris Johnson has asked his team to prepare a series of measures that could help avoid shutting the country down again.
And under the scheme, OAPs, as well as others considered to have an increased risk from Covid-19, may be told to stay indoors, The Telegraph reports.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly told Brits during speeches that he wants to avoid another national shutdown, and instead implement local lockdowns – like the one enforced this week in Greater Manchester.
To make sure he can keep his pledge, Mr Johnson has asked experts to look at a programme of ‘enhanced’ or ‘differential’ shielding.
As part of that, vulnerable Brits would be asked to stay at home – while the rest of the population can move around freely.
It comes over fears the UK is at a ‘tipping point’, with the death toll rising by 74 and 771 new cases diagnosed in the past 24 hours.
One proposal is for the shielded group to be allocated specific times of the week to have exclusive access to some services and shops.
The potential measures also include imposing a city-wide lockdown on London if infection rates spike in the capital, and tightening quarantine restrictions on those flying into the UK.
A fourth measure comprises ‘harder’ local lockdowns than the restrictions imposed on parts of Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
People from different households were barred from meeting indoors in northern areas affected by the measures.
The news comes days after the PM announced he was putting lockdown easing on ice after new cases of the virus more than doubled in just a fortnight.
Boris Johnson announced:
- The UK recorded its first rise in coronavirus cases since the end of May
- Skating rinks and bowling alleys that had expected to reopen on August 1 will now have to wait another two weeks at least
- Brits will have to wear a face mask in cinemas and museums from August 8
- The Home Secretary will work with the police to ensure coronavirus rules are “properly enforced”
- Employers who do not make workplaces Covid-secure will face the law
- Sports fans will not be allowed to attend live events
- Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted
- Facials also remain banned for another two weeks
Mr Johnson has previously said the option of a second national lockdown was similar to a “nuclear deterrent” – and that he doesn’t believe “we will be in that position again.”
However, it’s feared that pubs and restaurants in the UK could close again to prioritise getting children back to school in September.
And Government advisers reportedly believe hairdressers and barbers could be inadvertently transmitting Covid-19 to their customers as a result of “inadequate” official guidance stipulating that they should wear visors rather than masks.
A senior Whitehall source told the paper: “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 people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were advised to shield in their homes until the end of July.
In Wales, the advice remains in place until August 16.
But if the new proposals are given the green light, even more people would be asked to shield based on their age or particular risk factors.
Among people already diagnosed with Covid-19, people aged 80 or older were 70 times more likely to die than those under 40.
Officials have also stated that people with diabetes, heart disease and dementia all appear to be at higher risk of death.
It’s reported that experts are considering ‘shielding afternoons or hours’ which will allow the most vulnerable to get to shops and services without worrying about the virus being transmitted.
Early on into the UK’s lockdown, supermarkets introduced priority shopping hours for those most at risk.
But if the new measure is brought in, it would require “very intensive screening” of all those likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person – from care home staff to family.
Academics in Edinburgh said in April that if coronavirus was circulating just in the “non-vulnerable population”, the NHS could “easily cope with the levels of mild disease, some hospitalisations and occasional critical care”.
They added: “Numbers of deaths would be low.”
Another option on the table is that Londoners would be prevented from travelling outside the M25 if there’s another spike in the capital.
Quarantine measures for travellers landing in the UK could also be increased.
The Government is also thought to be considering implementing a national ban on people from different households meeting indoors.