What is a ‘circuit breaker’, and how could it help curb rising Covid-19 cases?

His intervention provoked a bitter backlash from the Government, with a “senior source” branding him a “shameless opportunist”.

However, the public seem to be of the same mind as the Labour leader – 54 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov on Tuesday said they feel the Government should have introduced a national lockdown in September, while just 28 per cent  of the 4,222 adults polled disagreed.  

Meanwhile the Tory leader of Bolton Council has said he is “absolutely disgusted” that Sir Keir Starmer “misrepresented” him in the Commons by claiming he supported a circuit-breaker to control coronavirus.

David Greenhalgh said it was “absolutely untrue” that he backed the proposal for a short nationwide lockdown – which Labour is calling for – and demanded an apology from the opposition leader.

Sir Keir made the comments during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on October 14. 

He said: “(Boris Johnson) probably hasn’t noticed that this morning, the council leaders in Greater Manchester that he’s just quoted, including the mayor and including the Conservative leader of Bolton Council, have said in a press statement that they support a circuit-break above Tier 3 restrictions. Keep up, Prime Minister.”

Has it worked anywhere else?

The term ‘circuit breaker’ came to prominence in April to describe the steps taken by the Singaporean Government.

While the virus had been detected in the country in January, it took until spring for the state to implement a widespread lockdown measure, including restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.

The so-called circuit breaker was only supposed to last for roughly a month, but ultimately it lasted for almost three.

Although the measures were in place for longer than anticipated, Singapore’s response is hailed worldwide as a successful model.

On Wednesday, the country registered four new cases, all of which were imported. The term circuit breaker has come to mean different things in different countries.

As with Singapore, many countries have introduced what was intended to be a short, sharp lockdown only to extend it.

Not all circuit breakers involve widespread lockdowns.

Who has gone for the circuit-break option in the UK?

Last Wednesday, pubs in central Scotland were ordered to close across several districts for 16 days.

In Northern Ireland, a four-week circuit breaker will come into force on Friday in an attempt to stall the rise in coronavirus infections.

Pubs and restaurants will have to shut unless they offer a takeaway service, but places of worship, shops and gyms can stay open.

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