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UK

UK eyes tougher COVID-19 restrictions for England as outbreak spreads

Pedestrians walk past shuttered and bordered up retails stores, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Croydon, south London, Britain, September 27, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government is mulling tougher restrictions in England to tackle a swiftly accelerating second wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, possibly outlawing more inter-household socialising, a junior health minister said on Monday.

“We don’t want to bring on new restrictions but of course we keep a constant eye on what is going on with the COVID rate,” Junior Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News. “We were looking at what we might be able to do.”

The Times newspaper said ministers were preparing to enforce a total social lockdown across much of northern England and potentially London. The paper said all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks.

Asked about The Times report, Whately said the country was at a really serious point and so COVID-19 had to be brought under control. She did not give a direct answer on the report that pubs would be closed.

“This is the moment when we have an opportunity - we have a choice for the country - to get this back under control,” Whately said. “We have to break these chains of transmission.”

She said pictures from the weekend, after pubs were ordered to close early which showed crowds of young revellers outside pubs, were “worrying”.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Bill Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden

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