CHRIS Whitty haswarned tough new restrictions for millions of Brits WON'T be enough to slow the spread of coronavirus.

England's top medic said that even the toughest 'tier three' shutdowns in Liverpool will not "be enough to get on top of it" as documents show the government's scientific advisors recommended a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown three weeks ago.

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During a sombre address to the nation, he said: "I am very confident that the measures that are currently in place are helping to slow the virus.

"These measures will help to slow it further.

"I am not confident – nor is anybody confident – that the tier three proposals for the highest rate, if you did the absolute base case and nothing more would be enough to get on top of it."

It comes as:

  • Another 13,972 Brits test positive for coronavirus overnight and 50 more lose their lives
  • Manchester goes into a 'tier two' lockdown
  • Loud talkers have been warned they are spreading coronavirus
  • Liverpool medics say hospitals are at 'critical' levels and routine ops are being cancelled
  • The number of people hospitalised with Covid is higher now than it was in March
  • Coronavirus can remain on bank notes and mobile phone screens for 28 days, scientists say

Meanwhile, it emerged the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee – of which Prof Whitty is a member – officially recommended a two-week lockdown on September 21.

The group said a short-term lockdown would be "likely to have similar levels of effectiveness as national lockdown in spring" and temporarily bring the R-rate below 1.

The rate of infection is currently hovering between 1.2 and 1.5.

Sage suggested a work at home order for those who can, as well as a ban on all contact within the home with members of other households.

The scientists asked the government to consider the closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and personal services such as hairdressers.

University and college teaching would take place online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential.

SAGE warned: "A package of interventions will need to be adopted to reverse this rise in exponential cases. Single interventions by themselves are unlikely to be able to bring R below 1."

Following the announcement, in Tier 3 areas – which at the moment is Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton – households are not allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors – including in pubs and private gardens.

Pubs and bars will close in the very high alert level areas unless they can operate as a restaurant.

People will also be advised against travel in and out of the areas.  

Local authorities will be able to put forward 'bespoke' measures under the different tiers – for example, those in tier three could suggest closing gyms.

But Prof Whitty told the briefing he doesn't believe the 'baseline' measures in the tiers will be enough.

During the press conference, he said local authorities in hardest-hit areas will be given more freedom to make stronger decisions.

"There is a lot of flexibility in tier three level for local authorities and directors of public health to go up that range so they can do significantly more than absolute base," he said.

Moreover, the academic added, 'absolute base' "will not be sufficient" to curb the virus.

In the bleak address, he said the notion that restrictions can be imposed "without causing harm is an illusion".

"We're going to have to do more, that's the whole point of what the Prime Minister has just announced, and probably in some areas significantly more," he said.

"None of us have any illusions about this and I would like to be really clear about this because I think we should not have any illusions.

"The idea that we can do this without causing harm is an illusion.

"It is a balancing act between two harms: a harm for society and the economy on the one hand and a harm for health on the other hand."

The PM said cases have quadrupled in just three weeks – adding: "These figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet."

During the Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: "We are entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus, because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable. 

"There are already more Covid patients in UK hospitals today than there were on March 23 when the whole country went into lockdown and deaths, alas, are also rising once again."

Areas in Tier Two – where there is a high risk of coronavirus – are banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs.

When outside, only two households will be able to mix.

The Prime Minister said this tier reflects interventions in many local areas at the moment and "primarily aims to reduce household transmission by banning mixing indoors". 

Current social distancing measures, the "rule of six" outdoors and the 10pm curfew will continue in this tier.

And most areas which are currently subject to local restrictions will automatically move into it.

The rest of the country will be in the lowest 'medium' tier.

The 10pm curfew and the rule of six remain in place in these areas.

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