Minister says there is risk of third spike and can't rule out lockdown

Dominic Raab has refused to rule out a third national lockdown if there is another wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the new year.

The Foreign Secretary told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show there was a “risk” of a third spike in case numbers “if we don’t get the balance right”.

He said: “But so far the R level is coming down – that’s really important – and that’s why we’re starting with the tiered approach.”

But asked whether there would be another national lockdown if people fail to comply with the rules, Mr Raab said: “We’re doing everything we can to avoid that.”

The second national lockdown in England will come to an end on December 2.

It will be replaced by a system of tiers with restrictions on gathering, limits of public events and strict rules for pubs, restaurants and cafes.

But the rules will be lifted from December 23 to December 27 to allow families to celebrate Christmas – with indoor gatherings, mixed households and more than six people in one place allowed.

Experts have warned this could lead to a new wave of coronavirus in January – the month when the NHS is always busiest because of winter pressures.

A vaccine could begin to roll out in December, but the Government has warned that at best we may not see enough people vaccinated to make a difference until Easter.

The tier rules will stay in place until February and can be extendd to the end of March.

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