UK warns Covid-19 curbs may return if cases get out of control

The wave of infections from the Delta variant is now causing staffing problems for some British employers.
The wave of infections from the Delta variant is now causing staffing problems for some British employers.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Britain has held out the prospect of restoring some Covid-19 restrictions amid a surge in new cases, just three days before it plans to drop all remaining social distancing rules.

"If we get into a situation where it's unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that, of course, is something the government will look at," Ms Lucy Frazer, a government minister, told Sky News on Friday (July 16).

The remarks from Ms Frazer, the government's solicitor-general, are the most explicit yet that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's stated wish for the current unlocking to be "irreversible" may be confounded by the progression of the virus.

Britain reported 48,553 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and the number of people in hospital rose 42.8 per cent in a week.

The wave of infections from the highly transmissible Delta variant is now causing staffing problems for some British employers.

Latest figures showed 520,000 people were told to self-isolate via a notification from the National Health Service Covid-19 app, which tracks contacts of people who have been close to patients who test positive for the virus.

On Monday, the government will allow nightclubs to open for the first time in 16 months and drop remaining Covid-19 rules, including limits on gatherings indoors and outdoors, the requirement to wear face masks in shops and on trains, and the guidance for people to work from home if able.

With infection rates rising amid the spread of the Delta variant, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that Britain is not "out of the woods yet".

He said: "I don't think we should underestimate that we could get into trouble again, surprisingly fast."