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Boris Johnson attacked over ‘failing’ local lockdowns after infections rise in 19 out of 20 areas under restrictions

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3-min read

Watch: PM and Starmer’s full exchange on local lockdowns

Labour leader Keir Starmer has attacked the prime minister over “failing” local lockdowns after coronavirus infections rose in 19 out of 20 areas under restrictions.

At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, the opposition leader accused Boris Johnson of a “lack of clarity” regarding restrictions placed on different areas across the UK.

Labour analysis has revealed that infection rates are up in the majority of areas under local lockdown, with the biggest increase in Manchester, which rose from 36 cases per 100,000 to 552 since restrictions were implemented on 30 July.

The largest percentage increase in infections occurred in Wigan, which saw a 3,653% jump, while Rosendale had a 2,241% hike, according to the data.

A table from Labour showing a rise in 19 out of 20 areas under local restrictions (Picture: Twitter/Angela Rayner)
A table from Labour showing a rise in infection rates in 19 out of 20 areas under local restrictions. (Twitter/Angela Rayner)

Starmer said “local communities genuinely don't understand” why some areas had been put under a local lockdown but others hadn’t.

He said: “For example, in the prime minister’s own local authority Hillingdon, today there are 62 cases per 100,000 yet no local restrictions.

“But in 20 local areas across England, restrictions were imposed when infection rates were much lower. In Kirklees it was just 29 per 100,000.

“Local communities, prime minister, genuinely don’t understand these differences. Can he please explain for them?”

Boris Johnson replied: “I wish I could pretend that everything was going to be rosy in the Midlands or indeed in London where, alas, we are also seeing infections rise.

Women wearing a face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past a sign reminding pedestrians to wear face coverings, in Manchester, northern England on October 6, 2020, after localised restrictions were introduced across northwest following a spike in coronavirus cases. - More than 42,000 people confirmed to have Covid-19 have died in Britain, the worst toll in Europe. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Women wear face masks in Manchester. (Getty)

“That is why we need a concerted national effort, we need to follow the guidance, we need hands, face, space, get a test if you have symptoms and obey the rule of six.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth subsequently accused Johnson of providing “no answers” to people living under lockdowns.

He tweeted: “No answers from Johnson today for families living under restriction across areas like Bury, Bolton, Burnley, Hyndburn, Kirklees and of course Leicester now in 100th day of lockdown.

“Families making so many sacrifices across lockdown in North & Midlands deserve clarity. #PMQs”

At PMQs Johnson also refused to commit to publishing the “scientific basis” behind the 10pm coronavirus curfew for pubs and restaurants.

A vote on whether to continue the curfew had been set to take place on Wednesday but has been delayed until next week.

People wear face masks as a precaution against the transmission of COVID-19 as they walk past closed shops in the centre of Bolton, northern England on September 9, 2020, as local lockdown restrictions are put in place due to a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus in the city. - The UK government, which controls health policy in England, imposed tougher restrictions on Bolton, near the northwest city of Manchester, after a "very significant rise" in cases. Bolton was found to have 120 cases per 100,000 people -- the highest in the country. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Bolton is another area that was put in local lockdown. (Getty)

Starmer called for Johnson to commit to publishing the “scientific basis” for the curfew before next week’s vote in the House of Commons.

Johnson, however, refused to commit to doing so and instead focused on how Starmer accepted the rule when it was introduced as part of a raft of new restrictions on 22 September.

The Labour leader said he did support the “rule of six”.

Watch: Keir Starmer challenges PM on missing COVID tests

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