GOVERNMENT ministers have flatly rejected calls for a national 'circuit breaker' lockdown, despite calls from its top medical and scientific experts.

The experts, as well as Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer, have said a 'circuit breaker' would help reduce the number of cases of Covid-19, easing pressure on hospitals and reducing the eventual number of deaths.

However the Government has remained firm in its opposition to the idea of a national lockdown, sticking with its new local Covid alert level system.

It comes as talks are due to re-open with local leaders in West Yorkshire to consider moving the area from its current Tier 2 'High' level to the top, Tier 3 'Very High' level which would see pubs forced to close.

Speaking this morning, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The argument for a national circuit-breaker is not one that I, personally, find, at all persuasive.

“This is to apply on a blanket level – the same approach in Nottingham, the city which my constituency is next to, where the number of cases today is well over 700, to Somerset or Herefordshire, where the number of cases per 100,000 is below 40.

“It also means that, in addition to, undoubtedly, the difficult measures that we are talking about for Greater Manchester and other areas in Tier 3, such as restrictions on hospitality, the outright closure of all schools, the outright closure of most workplaces.

“The damage to the economy and to our broader health and wellbeing that would be brought about by a circuit-break, I think, would be very, very significant.

“And so the Government’s approach is a localised, a proportionate and localised, approach for as long as there is such wide variations in infection.”

This followed comments from Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on Sunday, when he said: "The spread and the nature of the disease does not merit that approach at the moment.”

Also on Sunday, SAGE member and Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy Farrar said the best time for a circuit breaker would have been around September 28, when the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies called for it, but it could still be imposed now.

He said:  “The current tiered restrictions will not bring the transmission rates down sufficiently or prevent the continued spread of the virus. Divided countries tend not to deal well with epidemics.”

Labour leader Starmer has made repeated calls for a circuit breaker to "fix testing, protect the NHS and save lives".