‘Hard to be precise on economic impacts of individual restrictions’, says Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said “it’s very hard to be precise” on the economic impacts of individual restrictions, risking a rebellion from the Covid recovery group of Tory backbenchers.
Asked if the Government would publish a cost-benefit analysis of future lockdown measures, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It’s very hard to be precise in estimating the particular impact of a one-week restriction.
“What you will see next week when we have the spending review, alongside that will be a set of forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility … which will show the enormous strain and stress our economy is experiencing, the job losses that you mention, the forecasts of what will happen, and it’s right that we consider those in the round as we consider the best way to fight the virus.”
Government needs to adapt and evolve, says Sunak
Rishi Sunak outlined the need for the Government to “adapt and evolve” in its strategy to tackling Covid-19.
He said: “What we want to do is constantly adapt and evolve as we gain more information about the virus.
“Every week, every day that we go through this, we get more data, we can see what’s working, what’s the most effective way to tackle the spread of this while minimising the restrictions on people’s freedom.
“That’s what we will do. So, on the basis of the advice we get from our medical and scientific advisers, looking at everything in the round, see how we can fine-tune things, as I said, to make sure that what we’re doing is as effective as it can be.”
Mr Sunak added: “It’s a tragedy that three-quarters of a million people have already lost their jobs. That’s millions of families and people who are impacted by that, and it’s a difficult time for everyone.”
It’s not going to be a normal Christmas, says Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has addressed suggestions that for every day restrictions are relaxed over Christmas, five days of tighter restrictions could be needed.
He said: “The deputy chief medical officer spoke about this just the other day and I think it’s difficult to be so precise and granular about the impact of any individual measure that we might take.
“That’s why I said it’s not going to be a normal Christmas this year. I think the good news is we’re going to be exiting national restrictions, which is something that I think people at the beginning of this were doubtful of and we said that was very much what we wanted to deliver, and we are going to deliver that.
“The Prime Minister will be setting out more details tomorrow about going back to a more localised approach, seeing what we can do to allow families to see each other at Christmas time.
“But it is not going to be normal.”
One day of relaxation equals five days of restrictions, expert says
Professor Calum Semple has said regulations could be relaxed over Christmas if the tier system proves successful.
He also told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that even if a relaxation of measures led to tighter restrictions later, these might not be “draconian”.
He added: “There’s every reason to believe that when lockdown is lifted many areas will be able to go into lower tiers, but some areas will remain in higher tiers.
“Then you have this period in the run-up to Christmas and, hopefully, if the system works, we will be able to relax some regulations for a few days, but there’s always a price for that.”
When asked if every day of relaxation would require five days of tighter restrictions, he said: “Yeah, I think in the round it’s right but it shouldn’t be seen that it is going to be draconian restrictions, it’s just going to prolong restrictions and higher-level restriction for some areas.”
Banning Christmas would just lead to breaches
Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said that trying to ban Christmas would lead to people breaching restrictions.
The member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “In reality we can’t ban Christmas and to do so would simply lead to breaches and what are you going to do about that?
“So what we are looking at is getting the R down, but also get the absolute number of cases and there’s real good news there.
“Nationally we are seeing cases in the community fall and in those areas that went into Tier 3 before lockdown we are already seeing the tide turning with the number of hospital admissions and we will shortly see the deaths reduce as well.”
Public don’t want to pay heavy price for Christmas, says Labour shadow business minister
Lucy Powell said whether people are able to see their families at Christmas also depends on the weeks after it.
She said: “I think we all want to be able to see our families in some way over Christmas, but we don’t want to do that in a way that we then have to pay a heavy price in the following weeks.
“I think what we want is measured clarity so that we can, yes, see our families in some way. I think we all recognise that Christmas is going to be a very, very different kind of Christmas this year, but it’s not just about Christmas, it’s about the coming weeks and the weeks after Christmas as well.
“That’s why we need this clear route map instead of what we get from the Government (which) is just sort of focusing on one small aspect, which then gets over-briefed and overplayed, and then they have to pull back the drawbridge at the last minute.”
Shadow business minister calls for ‘route map’ through 2021
Shadow business minister Lucy Powell has called for clarity and a “route map” to allow the UK to plan through to 2021.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I think what we now need for the first time really in this pandemic is we need a lot more clarity, we need a blueprint, a route map to take us through from now through to next year.
“So that families know what they’re supposed to be doing when, just as importantly so that businesses can plan whether they are reopening and, if they are, under what terms and how they can continue over the coming weeks.
“There are still many, many businesses who, despite the briefings in the papers today, won’t know whether they can now stock up on food, whether they can start taking bookings again, whether they can plan to open their businesses.
“We need methodical, measured clarity, not what we’ve seen before, which is over-briefing and then pulling back the drawbridge at the last minute, mixed messages – stay at home, go to work, stay at home, go to work.
“We need this now to be a route map through to next year when hopefully the vaccine and mass testing will come on stream and make things easier for all of us.”
South Korea to tighten social distancing rules for Seoul
South Korea will tighten coronavirus social distancing rules for the capital Seoul and nearby areas, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday the country’s prime minister said officials would consider preemptively tightening some social distancing rules as South Korea reported more than 300 new coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day.
Government to scrap 10pm curfew under new restrictions
The three tiers are expected to be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown but it is understood that the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be altered under the new system.
The Prime Minister is expected to say that, while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.
The Cabinet is expected to discuss and sign off the plan on Sunday before Mr Johnson announces it to Parliament the following day.
Australian Open dates to be set ‘as soon as possible’ amid Covid uncertainty
Australian Open organisers hope to finalise tournament dates “as soon as possible” amid speculation January’s event could be moved to February or March.
Current Covid-19 quarantine restrictions in Australia would make holding the first grand slam of 2021 in its planned January 18-31 slot logistically difficult.
At present, players would need to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Australia while the state of Victoria will reportedly not allow them to enter before January 1.
That would have a big impact on warm-up tournaments and players’ general ability to train and prepare.