What would a circuit breaker lockdown look like in England?

21 December 2021, 08:35

What does a circuit breaker lockdown mean and will it happen in England? Here's what we know...

Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

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With cases of Omicron rising across the UK, there has been speculation that England will be facing a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown after Christmas.

The country is currently under ‘Plan B’ restrictions, which include mandatory face masks and Covid passes.

However, other parts of the UK have already tightened their own restrictions, with Wales closing nightclubs after Christmas and reintroducing social distancing rules.

Boris Johnson could announce a circuit breaker after Christmas
Boris Johnson could announce a circuit breaker after Christmas. Picture: Alamy

So, what is a circuit breaker lockdown and what new restrictions would be imposed? Here’s what we know…

What is a circuit breaker lockdown?

A circuit breaker is a short, sharp lockdown where tougher restrictions would be implemented.

This is usually two weeks long, but could go on for longer and is brought in to stop the spread of coronavirus and buy time.

It needs to be enough time to stop transmission and allow the health service to recover, but also not have a huge impact on the economy.

Pubs could be closed during a circuit breaker lockdown
Pubs could be closed during a circuit breaker lockdown. Picture: Alamy

The UK, Northern Ireland, Singapore and Israel have all previously used circuit breakers to try and slow the spread of the virus.

The exact changes can vary, depending on what the government decides, but could involve closing hospitality and non-essential shops, as well as banning households from mixing.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to rule out more restrictions coming in before Christmas.

However, it’s currently believed that the government are planning on introducing new rules just after Christmas Day on December 27 or 28.

This would allow Christmas Day to go ahead as planned, while also allowing the 48 hours the government would need to vote on any new restrictions.

New coronavirus restrictions could be introduced after Christmas
New coronavirus restrictions could be introduced after Christmas. Picture: Alamy

During an address to the nation, The PM said: "Unfortunately I must say to people that we will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, to protect public health, to protect our NHS. And we won't hesitate to take that action."

Asked about new restrictions returning before Christmas, Mr Johnson said: "We are looking at all kinds of things to keep Omicron under control and we will rule nothing out.

"But at the moment, what I think we want people to focus on is exercising caution - so ventilation, masks in the appropriate places, all the usual stuff about washing hands, but remember how contagious Omicron really is."