THE Army could be scrambled within days amid fears local lockdowns will spark London-style riots as Brits tire of losing freedoms.
The Government was warned military support alongside cops would be needed to control public disorders sparked by coronavirus frustrations.
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Experts have warned coronavirus and local lockdowns have left the UK “precariously balanced”, and could fuel violence worse than that seen in the 2011 London riots.
A SAGE report said: “If serious disorder does develop, it will have a detrimental impact on public health, facilitating the spread of disease, making the re-imposition of measures to control the spread of Covid-19 next to impossible and would be likely to require military support.”
It comes after:
- Scientists warned there will be more local lockdowns as the deadly bug “inevitably spills out”
- More than 350 people wait on a test after a major outbreak at a Staffordshire pub
- Pub-goers hit the town on a boozy night out in Manchester despite new local lockdown rules
- Boris Johnson announced a face mask crackdown as shielding is paused
The Government advisory group issued an ominous caution that local lockdowns bring a “series of threats to social cohesion and public order”.
It comes as huge swathes of the North West of England have been put back under stricter restrictions, and Leicester faced four extra weeks of lockdown as cases spiked.
There are fears Brits are becoming frustrated with seeing freedoms restricted once more – with concerns it could spark unrest.
The paper warns: “In the next few weeks and months the UK will face grave challenges to public order.
“The situation is volatile and highly complex.”
The papers, considered at a meeting on July 7, said local restrictions, racial inequalities, protests and street parties sent tensions soaring.
It comes as experts warned there will be more lockdowns if infections continue to spiral.
SAGE’s Professor Graham Medley told the BBC the rise in coronavirus infections appeared to be among younger people, but warned it could “spill” over into other parts of the population.
Prof Medley said the increased lockdown measures in areas across the north-west of England were “highly unlikely” to be the “last intervention that has to be done regionally”.
“While widespread urban disorder is not inevitable, currently, the situation in the UK is precariously balanced and the smallest error in policing (whether perceived or real, inside or outside the UK) or policy could unleash a dynamic which will make the management of Covid-19 all but impossible.
A serious deterioration of public order could overwhelm hospitals, the criminal justice system and hinder revival of the economy.
“Put simply, a serious deterioration of public order could overwhelm all attempts to control contagion, overwhelm hospitals, the criminal justice system and hinder revival of the economy.”
On Saturday millions of Brits across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were given just hours notice of a ban on meeting indoors as ministers scrambled to stop Covid-19 “bubbling up”.
The orders came as England was hit with 846 new positive cases – the highest number in 32 days – adding to fears the country is facing a second wave of the virus.
Experts have warned police are now less equipped to deal with riots than they were in August 2011 due to cuts to staff and facilities.
A lack of frontline officers, intelligence workers, custody suites and helicopters has left their ability to respond “significantly diminished”.
They said ministers should consider local tensions before imposing more lockdowns.
The document said: “Government should take account of intelligence on community tensions and other factors that may be inflamed by the extension or imposition of local lockdowns.
“Public health measures are never simply scientific decisions and the consequences in terms of public order (and ultimately for public health) could be serious if lockdown imposition is ill-judged.”
The situation could be made worse by the ending of furlough, increased unemployment, sporting fixtures and further lockdowns.
Riot police pelted with bricks, bottles and fences as they shut down another illegal rave in London
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