A Cabinet minister says she doesn’t believe there should be a national lockdown, but banning people from moving out of their local areas is a ‘sensible approach’.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky News this morning: “There are already parts of the country going into tier three today, where there is strong guidance to not travel out of the area apart from essential travel whether that’s going to school, hospital or work.
“‘That’s a sensible approach to take making sure that we try and localise a lot of these measures where the intensive restrictions are needed.”
Wales has already called for people from high-infection areas to be banned from crossing the border.
Ms Coffey said she did not think a circuit-breaker lockdown was the right move.
Asked on LBC radio whether there was appetite in the Conservative Party for a two to three-week lockdown, she said: “No, I don’t.
“The reason being, Parliament has only just voted last night for this national approach of the three tiers with much stronger local measures where they are needed.
“And we need to take communities with us right across the country in having some of the national measures, but frankly the Labour Party was saying 19 out of 20 areas in these lockdowns haven’t made any difference, now they want to see a national lockdown.
“I don’t think it is the right approach. Right now we need to allow this chance for the localised interventions to really have an effect so that together we can be focused on saving lives and livelihoods.”
Ms Coffey said she did not think the Tory MPs who rebelled on the three-tier approach on Tuesday evening would have the whip removed.
Ms Coffey said she did not agree with the suggestion from former prime minister Theresa May, reportedly made in a meeting between Boris Johnson and backbench Tory MPs, that business-minded experts should be added to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
“Sage is there about the specific element of science,” Ms Coffey told LBC radio.
“The Prime Minister is advised by a number of different people – ministers and also officials – in order to make sure he takes that balanced approach.
“And as this approach is about having social isolation that still allows people to go to school, hospital, work that means we keep the focus as well on economic freedoms, so it is that balance of lives versus livelihoods.
“Sage is the place for scientists not business people.”
On restrictions being escalated in London, Ms Coffey said: “Clearly these infection rates and the escalation of them will be kept under review, usually on a fortnightly basis, and if London needs to go into Tier 2, it may.
“But right now that is not the approach that is being recommended and we need to keep working together to ensure we can keep life as normal as we can.”