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Johnson locks down England as UK COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

16 Comments
By Andrew MacAskill and Guy Faulconbridge

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.

The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the"worst case" scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in after midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.

In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain's peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.

"We must act now," Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. "Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day."

The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay, he said.

Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said, and while elite sports will continue, amateur sports for adults and children will be asked to stop.

Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways, and outbound international travel will be discouraged except for work. All non-essential retail will close.

Places of worship will remain open for private prayer, though funerals will be limited to close family members only.

Johnson's imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.

The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.

Johnson was criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalised in early April.

A national lockdown represents a dramatic change of policy for the prime minister, who has been saying for months that it will not be necessary.

Two weeks ago he defended his strategy of a patchwork of local restrictions by saying he wanted to avoid the "misery of a national lockdown". Currently, areas of England are subject to one of three tiers of coronavirus restrictions.

"I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring," Johnson said, adding that there was realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year.

Asked by reporters what took him so long to impose a national lockdown, Johnson said it was a constant struggle to balance the risk to life and the risk to livelihoods.

"We have to mindful the whole time of the scarring and the long-term economic impact of the measures," Johnson said. His medical adviser Whitty said that without the tougher measures then the National Health Service could be overwhelmed.

Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour leader, who called for a lockdown two weeks ago, said the delay introducing the restrictions will come "at an economic cost and a human cost".

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposals on Wednesday.

The new lockdown will heap more pressure on finance minister Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England to increase their already huge support for the UK economy, the world's sixth-biggest. The economy slumped a record 20% in the spring.

So far, the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths - defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates puts the toll at 58,925.

The United Kingdom has the world's fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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Johnson's "leadership" on Covid has been an unmitigated disaster.

I hope it's not too late.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Johnson's "leadership" on Covid has been an unmitigated disaster.

The figures are clear on that.

I’ve never seen so many own goals in such a short period of time including on matters not related to Covid. He sets himself up for damaging u-turns after giving ill-advised ‘rousing’ speeches.

Hopefully the Tories won’t tolerate his plummeting approval ratings and the Labour surge for much longer.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

The lockdowns are killing far more people than the coronavirus now:

https://metro.co.uk/2020/07/20/coronavirus-lockdown-cause-200000-extra-deaths-13014848/amp/

They know this, what are they doing? People in Spain and Italy are starting to starve unnecessarily because of this

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

The people seem to have the mentality that it is ok to eat, drink, party and socialise until 21:59, then the virus comes out from wherever it hides during the day, and after 22:00 it is no longer safe to be out with other people.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Places of worship will remain open for private prayer

So being a normal human being is not OK, but believing in some god or gods is OK?

Young English are going to be so angry. Lockdown imprison the innocent, not the guilty.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

I guess Johnson didn’t get the memo, or doesn’t want to listen.

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-54442386

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The country like most of Europe, are in disaster that seems to defeat the government and their experts. The personal suffering are great, people haven't recover from the last lockdown. Johnson will not survive his five years in office and will be gone by next year.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I guess Johnson didn’t get the memo, or doesn’t want to listen. 

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-54442386

There are defensible arguments for and against lockdowns in the scientific community. One of the problems with Johnson is he flits between both leaving people confused by the lack of consistency and the rushed decisions that come as a result.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The lockdowns are killing far more people than the coronavirus now:

I call BS on that. More fake "opinions" from fake news sites.

Lockdowns have NOT killed over 1.19 Million people as the Virus has world wide.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The lockdowns are killing far more people than the coronavirus now

No, reckon you'll find the the virus is the killer.

Trash press, conspiracy theories and downright irresponsible promotion of falsehoods is really not helping.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Johnson is a dead man walking.

The long knives will soon be out ....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

England has a population of almost 68 millions. Containing covid is not easy. The first 3 month long lockdown ended on July 4 and in about 4 months there is 20,000 cases per day. It is very obvious things are very wrong over there. Lockdown cannot go on forever. Eventually when the restrictions are eased, it is up to the people to do the rights things to contain covid. Therefore, it is more important to find ways to educate/force the people to do the right things. Otherwise it will be months of lockdown, months of openings, repeated again and again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@yoshisan88. No, the population of England is just under 56 million, and the chance to contain Covid passed months ago, for all countries mitigation is the only option.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Therefore, it is more important to find ways to educate/force the people to do the right things. Otherwise it will be months of lockdown, months of openings, repeated again and again.

Although your population figures are off (I think that's the UK population), you make a point worth discussing. We do rely on broad cooperation across the population, but it seems there are many who simply follow the rules without thinking and those who knowingly break the rules just because there are rules. How to make people generally think a little more and cooperate with those around them? I have no answers, I'm afraid.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

. We do rely on broad cooperation across the population, but it seems there are many who simply follow the rules without thinking and those who knowingly break the rules just because there are rules. How to make people generally think a little more and cooperate with those around them? I have no answers, I'm afraid.

And therein lies the fundamental problem. Adult self restraint and a sense of duty to something higher than oneself seems to be absent in most western countries. People of wealthy nations have grown too accustomed to having their wants satisfied immediately, with easy monthly payments. Self discipline is not rewarded, or at least not necessary. So when something like a pandemic happens wealthy citizens of the west are not equipped to make the sacrifices necessary to defeat the virus.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The government have treated the general population like children instead of seeking them to be part of the government and seeking the best solutions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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