National lockdown could shut schools and force over-70s to shield from this week

A new national lockdown could be announced for England on Monday as Labour accuses the Government of letting coronavirus "get out of control".

Current restrictions are set to be reviewed by the Government's "Covid-O" committee on Monday, with Boris Johnson left to make a final decision on increasing action, The Daily Mail reports.

Placing more areas of England into Tier 4 is an alternative option for the Prime Minister with 22% of the population yet to live under the toughest tier.

New shielding rules are being discussed according to Whitehall sources who suggested vulnerable people and even over-70s will be told to stay indoors, the Telegraph reports.

In December only the "clinically extremely vulnerable" living in Tier 4 areas, fell under shielding advice.

A decision on closing more schools to stop the rapid spread of the virus could be made this week, the newspaper added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of having a "chaotic" response to the coronavirus pandemic and should act immediately instead of hinting at making changes.

The Labour leader said: "The virus is clearly out of control.

"We can't allow the Prime Minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in a national lockdown which is inevitable.

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"Do it now. That's the necessary first step to get the virus back under control."

Sir Keir said on Sunday that further closures of classrooms were "inevitable" and new moves must be "part of a wider strategy that has a national lockdown in place in the next 24 hours".

He added: "The Prime Minister is hinting at it, but he's not doing it. We can't afford that delay again.

"Let's not have the Prime Minister saying 'I'm going to do it, but not yet', that's the problem he has made so many times."

In response to the comments, a Number 10 source said: "The Prime Minister has been consistently clear that we are driven by the need to protect the NHS and save lives – unlike Labour who have spent the last ten months playing party politics.

"We have moved more areas into Tier 4 to bear down on the new variant and escalated other areas into Tier 3. This targeted approach is the right one, and is kept under review based on the latest data."

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