UK Finance Chief Rules out More COVID-19 Lockdowns

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
October 23, 2021 Updated: October 23, 2021

Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak has ruled out more COVID-19 lockdowns, saying in a newspaper interview that there must not be a return to “significant economic restrictions.”

In an interview with The Times of London published on Saturday, Sunak, the chancellor of the Exchequer, said that Britain is in a different phase of battling the pandemic due to the vaccine scheme and that the economy is the priority now.

“I think we’re just in a very different place to where we were a year ago because of the vaccine,” he said. “There’s this enormous wave of protection, and that changes things. That’s our first line of defence.”

“There’s a range of options that are available, and those are not options that involve lockdowns or very significant economic restrictions,” he added.

The UK government lifted all CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions on July 19 in England. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK economy grew faster in August as the end of lockdown restrictions gave a boost to the service sector.

UK government ministers have repeatedly rejected calls for the implementation of the so-called Plan B, a backup strategy that involves measures such as vaccine passports and mandatory face coverings in public places.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the BBC on Oct. 20 that the return to normal life had been “very hard-won” and that the government doesn’t “feel that it’s the time for Plan B right now.” He told Sky News that discussions of more lockdowns or restrictions on holidays are “completely unhelpful.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that further lockdowns were unlikely. “I’ve got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that’s on the cards at all,” he said on a visit to the vaccination centre in west London.

Businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, are worried about new lockdown measures that might be imposed during the winter season.

Industry body UK Hospitality warned on Saturday that businesses will not survive another winter of lockdown restrictions. Kate Nicholls, CEO of the group, told Times Radio, “We have already lost 12,000 businesses.”

She said consumers will not go out and socialise if the government puts a work-from-home order in place.

“If you move towards vaccine passports, we know from Ireland and other places that they have affected footfall. We could be looking at a second winter where hospitality is running at half its revenue,” she added.

PA contributed to this report.