England’s month-long lockdown could be extended beyond 2 December if necessary, cabinet minister Michael Gove has told Sky News.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, the Tory frontbencher also defended the introduction of the nationwide restrictions, having previously rejected it, arguing the “situation has been worse than anyone expected”.
He warned the NHS would be overwhelmed unless action was taken.
From Thursday until 2 December, people in England will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons, such as education, work or food shopping.
Mr Gove said the government would review the data during November, adding he hoped the infection rate would be “significantly reduced” by the start of next month.
But asked if the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: “Yes.”
He said: “We want to be in a position where we can – and I believe that this is likely to be the case – have an approach where if we bring down the rate of infection sufficiently we can reduce measures nationally and also reduce measures regionally.
“Because the regional approach is one that, wherever possible, we want to take because again we recognise it may be the case in the future that having reduced R below 1, having reduced national restrictions, we may see a specific upsurge in specific areas which will require specific regional measures.”
Mr Gove added: “it would be “foolish” to predict what would happen with the pandemic over the next four weeks.
“With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time, when over the course of the last two weeks its rate, its infectiousness and its malignancy have grown.
“And so therefore of course we will review what requires to be done but we have a clear plan over the next four-week (period) to support the economy and to protect the NHS.”