UK lockdown: Nadhim Zahawi explodes at ‘corrosive’ leaks on COVID-19 measures

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Pubs and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots look set to face fresh restrictions after Downing Street said new data suggests there is “significant” transmission taking place in hospitality settings. Downing Street said on Thursday that a “range of measures” is being looked at, with a particular focus on northern England, where it says infection rates are rising fastest. Ministers are considering fresh financial packages to help areas and industries hardest hit by lockdowns amid widespread calls for support.

But with infection rates soaring in cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, regional leaders criticised the Government for not consulting them ahead of changes.

Leaked Government documents disclosed that a new three-tier system for restrictions will be announced on Monday before measures come into force on Wednesday.

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has attacked the leaks on the measures.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “I think you will agree with me that these leaks are completely counterproductive.

“Whoever is leaking this stuff is doing a disservice.

“You asked me what’s happening on the frontline, you’re doing a disservice to the service with speculation and leaks.

“I think that’s wrong. I think the right thing to do is wait for the decisions that the Government will always attempt to do in a coordinated way.”

He added: “No minister would actually instruct any member of staff to go out and brief this stuff out.

“This is really bad that people are leaking this stuff.

“I hope that whoever is doing this will stop because it’s counterproductive, it’s confusing and it’s corrosive.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We are seeing coronavirus cases rise across the entire country but they are rising faster in the North East and the North West.

“We are keeping the data under close review and we are considering a range of options to reduce the spread of the virus in order to protect communities and to protect the NHS.”

He suggested new restrictions on hospitality could be introduced in England as ministers come under pressure to act after Scotland announced fresh restrictions on the hospitality sector.


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“Early data does suggest that a significant proportion of exposure to the virus is seen in the hospitality sector, and that is even more pronounced in younger age groups where we have been seeing the most rapid rise in infections,” the spokesman said.

“The data is new and we will continue to gather evidence and review it.”

He added he is not yet in a position to publish it.

Health minister Nadine Dorries said further measures are needed because hospital admissions could be at a “critical stage” in around 10 days’ time.

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