Quantcast
Connect with us

UK PM Boris Johnson postpones lockdown easing amid rise in new COVID-19 cases

Published

on

Boris Johnson (Jack Hill POOL:AFP)

Lockdown measures in the UK were set to be further eased this weekend, but on Friday Britain “put the brakes on” those plans and imposed new rules on millions of households in northern England, following concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections.

The reopening of high-risk activities such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, which was meant to begin on Saturday, will be delayed until at least August 15, as will the reintroduction of indoor performances and pilot schemes of larger crowds at sporting events, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional… that we would not hesitate to put the brakes on if required. Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal,” he told a Downing Street briefing.

Johnson, who earlier this week warned of a “second wave” of cases in Europe, added that Britain “cannot be complacent” about increasing infection numbers.

Increase in new infections

His announcement came hours after the government increased regional lockdown measures – under which people from different households are banned from meeting indoors – for some four million people across Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the restrictions were being brought in because people were “meeting and not abiding (by) social distancing”.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe,” Hancock said on Twitter.

Government data Friday showed there was “some evidence that the incidence of new infections has increased in recent weeks” in England.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: “I don’t think it is helpful” to talk yet of a second wave sweeping across Europe, but admitted the actions taken so far to ease restrictions were “at the edge” of what could be done safely.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong and what we’re seeing is that we’re at the outer edge of what we can do,” he said.

The opposition Labour party warned that the delayed reopening of parts of the economy could have dire consequences for workers and called on the government to help those affected.

ADVERTISEMENT

“With millions of workers still furloughed, including those in casinos, night clubs, ice rinks and bowling alleys, the government’s one-size-fits-all plan risks accelerating the jobs crisis,” said MP and former party leader Ed Miliband.

The local lockdown measures came into effect at midnight (23:00 GMT Thursday), just hours after being announced.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, backed the measures due to the increase in infections.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The picture in Greater Manchester has changed over the last seven days,” he told the BBC.

“We have a rise in nine out of the 10 boroughs, the reality on the ground is changing.”

Scots should avoid Manchester

The new measures were also criticized by Labour for being announced late at night.

ADVERTISEMENT

Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Twitter: “Announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.”

The measures also came into force just as celebrations of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha began. Areas affected by the latest lockdown have significant Muslim populations.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meanwhile warned her citizens against travelling to the affected areas.

“To… minimize risks of onward transmission here, @scotgov is STRONGLY advising against non-essential travel between Scotland and these parts of the north of England,” she wrote on Twitter.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is not the first local lockdown – England has lifted most of its restrictions nationally but imposed store closures around the central city of Leicester at the end of June.

Britain’s official virus death toll stands at 45,999 but is believed to be as high as 65,000 if excess deaths are used as a guide.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them

Published

on

Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.

"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Lots of red hats — but not many COVID masks — at Bedminster ‘Cops for Trump’ event with the president

Published

on

Enhanced unemployment benefits have expired and there is still no deal on the next COVID-19 stimulus package, but the president of the United States left Washington, DC on Friday for yet another weekend at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

"This weekend’s trip to Trump National Bedminster is the president’s 23rd since taking office, and will increase his golf-related taxpayer tab to $142 million in travel and security expenses," HuffPost White House corresponded S.V. Dáte reported Friday. "Trump has already spent 268 days on golf courses that he owns in his 1,303 days in office, of which 85 have been at Bedminster."

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

‘Very good news’: Law prof praises Kentucky’s bipartisan compromise to allow everyone to vote by mail

Published

on

The state of Kentucky was praised on Friday after a bipartisan agreement was reached to expand voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Any Kentucky voter wary of the risk of COVID-19 will be able to vote in the Nov. 3 general election by mailing in an absentee ballot. Voters will also have the option of casting a ballot in person during the three weeks leading up to the election, or waiting until Election Day," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Friday.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image