Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown against coronavirus in England


Boris Johnson has announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England.

London, United Kingdom:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a radical shift in strategy after warnings that hospitals would be overwhelmed within weeks under his current system of localized restrictions.

Under the new strict rules that are to take effect from Thursday, people must stay at home, except where exemptions apply, such as for work, education or exercise, when all stores, except essential ones, will close.

Unlike the lockdown that lasted for several months in the UK earlier this year, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

But pubs and restaurants will close unless they serve take-out, while all leisure and entertainment venues and non-essential stores will close.

The restrictions are expected to end on December 2.

“Now is the time to act because there is no alternative,” Johnson said at a press conference in Downing Street after summoning his cabinet earlier today to endorse the plan.

“We must be humble in the face of nature. In this country, alas, as in much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers,” he added. .

The British Prime Minister will present the new measures, which include the extension of a financial support program to help companies pay employees on leave for an additional month until December, in parliament on Monday.

Lawmakers will then vote on them on Wednesday.

The accelerated response came as Britain surpassed 1 million cases during the global pandemic, after announcing nearly 22,000 new infections on Saturday, and hospitalizations from the virus soared by 1,239, the highest daily tally since end of April.

Government science advisers have warned that the prevalence of Covid-19, as well as hospitalizations and resulting deaths, is increasing faster than their most dire predictions.

Accompanying Johnson on the announcement, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that under the current trajectory, hospital intensive care units and ventilator capacity could be exceeded in early December.

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said there was a risk of death twice as high as during the first wave of the pandemic.

– ‘No excuses’ –

Britain is already among the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with a total of Covid-19-related deaths approaching 47,000, after the news of 326 more deaths.

Some European countries and the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already reimposed partial lockdowns to try to reduce their skyrocketing rates.

Johnson’s government, which is responsible for health policy in England only, had resisted the move, fearing the economic fallout.

Instead, he persevered with a localized response system that relies on three levels of Covid-19 alert.

It is only at the highest level, imposed in recent weeks on a number of regions and towns in northern and central England, that pubs and bars are closed and indoor dating is prohibited. .

Last month, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended a nationwide two-week “circuit breaker” lockout during the mid-term school vacation last week, but Johnson rejected the decision.

Johnson defended the policy on Saturday, adding: “It is true that the course of the pandemic has changed and it is only right that the government change and modulate its response accordingly, and I make absolutely no apologies.”

– ‘Very difficult choices’ –

But critics say delaying the decision has resulted in the need for an even longer lockdown now.

“The government’s delay has cost lives and livelihoods,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, of the main opposition Labor Party, wrote on Twitter.

The British Prime Minister has also faced fierce opposition to yet another blockade from his own ruling Conservative Party, right-wing newspapers and also scientists and medics who believe the lockdowns don’t work and are too damaging .

Tory MP Steve Baker met Johnson in Downing Street on Saturday and later admitted his boss faced “very difficult choices”.

Earlier this year, Johnson – who contracted Covid and was treated in intensive care – was criticized for being slow to respond to the outbreak, delaying Britain’s lockdown even as the number of positive cases and deaths were increasing in Europe.

It ultimately imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March, shutting down all non-essential stores and schools and forcing millions to work from home to reduce transmission tariffs.

Stay-at-home measures were lifted in June as cases declined, with Johnson saying in July that the country could see “a greater return to normalcy from November … maybe in time for Christmas.”


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