Nearly 3 in 4 Americans didn’t take time off this summer

The Telegraph

Second lockdown would be ‘disastrous’ for the economy, Boris Johnson warns

A second lockdown would be an economic “disaster” for the UK, Boris Johnson said as he acknowledged that the testing system was experiencing “huge problems.” In his second appearance before the Commons powerful liaison committee this year, the Prime Minister fielded questions on the surge in covid-19 infections, testing shortages and his handling of the Brexit negotiations. During the 103-minute session, Mr Johnson insisted that reimposing nationwide restrictions would be “completely wrong for this country” and warned that the impact on the public finances would be “disastrous.” However, he pushed back against criticism of the tightening of social distancing measures through the rule of six, telling MPs that ministers would do everything necessary to “defeat the disease”. Schools contributing to testing shortages With the Government implementing rationing to cope with a surge in demand for covid-19 tests, Mr Johnson suggested that overly cautious parents and teachers could be exacerbating shortages nationwide. Asked by former business secretary Greg Clark whether the UK had sufficient testing capacity, Mr Johnson said the “short answer is no” but insisted that ministers would “work night and day” to bolster capacity in the coming weeks. While acknowledging the system was facing “huge problems” he pointed out that the Government had already “expanded testing enormously”, with the UK testing more people per head than Germany, France and Spain. But in order to cope with surging demand, he said ministers intended to hit 500,000 tests per day by the end of October, which he said would make a “very substantial difference.” Pressed on why shortages were occurring, Mr Johnson said demand had accelerated in recent weeks partly because people were seeking to be “released to get on with their lives in the normal way.” Although this was “perfectly reasonable,” he said the guidance made clear that people should only seek a test when they have symptoms. On schools, he added that teachers should not be sending home whole year groups or classroom bubbles until a pupil in that cohort had test positive for covid-19. “It’s very important that teachers, parents, should look at the guidance…about when you should get a test,” he continued. Quizzed on the ambition to roll out “Moonshot” mass testing in the future, Mr Johnson admitted that the UK was still a “long way off” rapid pregnancy-style tests, which he said could liberate sectors such as the arts and spectator sport. More deaths to come Mr Johnson pushed back against calls for England to follow Scotland and Wales in exempting younger children from the new “rule of six”, pointing out it was “alas a fact of the disease that is readily transmissible between children and adults.” Asked by Labour’s Catherine McKinnell whether he would consider looking again at the restrictions, the Prime Minister said it risked increasing the risk at a time when transmission between the young to the old was already on the rise. He added that incidence of the disease among those aged over 80 had increased significantly over recent days, and now stood at 12 people per 100,000. And while the number of cases remains far fewer than during the peak of the first wave, he warned that this trend would result in an uptick of fatalities. “Alas, although the number of cases, symptomatic or asymptomatic, is obviously far smaller than it was in the Spring, we must expect those infections to lead, proportionally, to mortality,” Mr Johnson added. Asked by Conservative MP Will Wragg when he would hold a public inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic, Mr Johnson said that dwelling on the subject would not a “good use of official time at the moment.”

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