The Government's approach for preventing a comprehensive national lockdown is to work closely with local authorities to enact and enforce local restrictions if an increase in cases indicates that to be the best cause of action.
While relaxations of restrictions over recent months have been most welcome, it is disappointing that despite the enormous sacrifices of the British people, the latest figures have shown an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. The Government has been clear that, if necessary, it will reinstate measures to keep the virus under control. In this case, since 14 September, people have not been permitted to socialise with any more than five others, unless they are all within one household or support bubble. Further measures, including closing pubs, bars, and restaurants early from 24th September, and asking office workers to work from home wherever possible, have also been put in place. I will continue to monitor these restrictions closely.
In advance of an increase in cases, the Government has been working hard with the NHS to prepare. Capacity has been increased in the NHS, with the creation of new Nightingale Hospitals, purchase of additional ventilators, and establishment of a PPE taskforce to ensure that health and social care facilities are able to access all the equipment that they need. We are well prepared to deal with a new increase in cases.
I know that a number of options, including technological ones, are being considered as mechanisms for allowing people increased freedom as safely as possible. While the Government has not ruled anything out at this stage, it will be vital that all tools are scrutinised to ensure that they do not put people's privacy at risk, and that data is only used for safe and acceptable purposes. I would like to reassure all my constituents that I will be monitoring this issue very closely.