Govt may go tough to control spread of corona as pandemic may last long; warns Robert Jenrick

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LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new “three-tiered” alert system in England on Monday, which will see the country carved up into medium, high and very high areas of infection.

The highest level of restrictions – Tier 3 – mean people cannot socialise with anyone outside their household in any indoor and many outdoor settings. Pubs and bars will be forced to close unless they are operating as a restaurant.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick

But Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said the Government may need to “go further” to control the spread of coronavirus, warning that the country will be living with coronavirus “for a long time to come”, the Evening standard has reported quoting BBC Breakfast programme.

It came as chief medical officer Chris Whitty said that people facing the toughest new coronavirus restrictions in England could see “significantly” deeper restrictions. “We know that the virus is still with us,” Mr Jenrick told Sky News. “We are going to be living with it for a long time to come, and so we have to learn to live with it. We also have to take robust action, which is what the Prime Minister did yesterday.”

He added: “We may have to go even further than what we have announced, but we want to make sure those measures work for the local communities themselves and that means designing things very closely with local government that will be particularly effective in those places.”

Mr Jenrick said the measures announced on Monday for large parts of northern England will be kept under review, and may need to be “built upon”.

He said: “Particularly those places that are going into Tier 3, we are putting in place a baseline, but that baseline may need to be built upon, and there’s a choice both for us and for the local leaders, who are doing an excellent job but also need to take their share of responsibility, to consider what more needs to be done in their own community to keep people safe.”

He added: “You heard from Chris Whitty last night that even the baseline we are proposing for Tier 3 cannot guarantee success, even that cannot guarantee that the rate of infection will go below 1.”

Mr Jenrick also insisted the Government had taken “robust action” despite being accused of ignoring its own scientists, after documents showed that a “circuit-breaker” lockdown was recommended for England by expert advisers three weeks ago.