Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the UK's opposition Labour Party, has called for a new two- to three-week lockdown in Britain that would see bars, restaurants and offices closed in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Starmer, who referred to the restrictions as a "circuit breaker", said that the regulations would include the closure of pubs, restaurants and offices but not schools, and would impose further rules on mixing, limiting it to one household except for those who had formed so-called "support bubbles".
He acknowledged that the regulations would involve "significant sacrifices" but that the government's current strategy, which includes a "three-tier" system of restrictions designed to target areas where the spread of the virus is particularly bad in the UK, was not working.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday night, Starmer said his circuit breaker was "a temporary set of clear and effective restrictions designed to get the R rate down and reverse the trend of infections and hospital admissions".
“Introducing these kinds of restrictions is not something anyone wants to do," he said. "This was not inevitable. But it is now necessary if we are to: protect the NHS, fix testing, and get control of the virus."
Starmer's statement came just 24 hours after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be split into "medium", "high" or "very high" risk determined by infection rates and with stricter restrictions for each.
It came amid a surge in infections in the country, with more people currently hospitalised with the virus than on 23 March, when the UK imposed its coronavirus lockdown.
Meanwhile, voices from within Johnson's own party have also criticised the government's policy on COVID-19, which critics say imposes draconian restrictions on the north of the country, which has been hardest hit by the virus.
Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, announced on Tuesday that has was resigning as parliamentary private secretary over the new regulations in the north of England.
"During the lockdown period, in comparison to last year, Bolton has seen 20,000 fewer GP referrals to hospital, whilst many other people have not accessed vital treatment because they have been too frightened to do so," he wrote in a letter to Johnson, which he shared on Twitter.
"By taking the current approach to COVID-19 we are creating many other health problems, which are leading to pain, suffering and death."