As areas across the North East of England face lockdown a Government minister went onto Sky News to give his thoughts on why this was happening.
Presenter Kay Burley asked him: “What is behind the rise in coronavirus infections across the north of England?” In response Health Minister Edward Argar said social distancing isn’t being followed and thinks people going to the pub has fuelled it.
And who is to blame for this, the people in pubs or the PM who in June urged people to “do their patriotic best for Britain and go to the pub”?
At the time pubs reopened on July 4, Tory Gareth Johnson (Dartford) said: “Going to the pub is a great British institution and vital if we want to get our economy back on track.
“I encourage people to take advantage of the freedoms they are reacquiring”
“Would the Prime Minister therefore join me in calling on people from July 4 to do their patriotic best for Britain and go to the pub?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Yes, I do encourage to take advantage of the freedoms that they are rightly reacquiring, but I must stress that people should act in a responsible way.
“And I know that that is where the public are. I know that is what people want to see.”
He added: “Yes I want to see people out in the shops – it is a fantastic thing to see; yes I want to see people taking advantage of hospitality again, a wonderful thing; yes I want to see people enjoying friends and family again but they’ve got to do it in a responsible way and observing social distancing.”
In response to the apparent U-turn Jo Maugham QC Tweeted: “June – Boris Johnson urges people to “do their patriotic best for Britain and go to the pub”.
“September – Health Minister Edward Argar blames people going to the pub for the rise in coronavirus.”
North East lockdown
The North East looks set to become the latest area in England to come under local restrictions as coronavirus cases rise.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said “additional, temporary” measures are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.
He said he expected Health Secretary Matt Hancock to make an announcement on Thursday morning.
He and public health officials have requested a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises, and a move to table service only.
There is also expected to be a ban on socialising outside individual household bubbles.
The Chronicle Live website reported that care home visits will be restricted to essential visitors, and people will be advised to avoid public transport at peak times except for essential journeys, and to avoid car-shares.
Mr Forbes tweeted: “Some additional, temporary restrictions are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.”
The restrictions will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland – which have all seen rises in cases, according to the latest weekly rates.
It comes after local measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham have been put in place in a bid to address rising rates of infection.