Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of UK, on Saturday had announced a new four-week COVID-19 lockdown across England, the United Kingdom, a dramatic shift in strategy following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed within some weeks under his current system of localised restrictions.
H-Forbes gathered that under the stringent new rules set to come into force from Thursday, citizens should stay at home except in exemptional cases that can be applied, such as for work, education or exercise, while essential shops and all will close.
In contrast to the months-long UK-wide lockdown earlier this year, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.
However, pubs and restaurants will locked unless there will be serving takeaway food, while all leisure and entertainment venues and non-essential shops will totally closed.
“Now is the time to take action because there’s no alternative,” Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference after convening his Cabinet earlier in the day to sign off on the plan.
“We have got to 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.
New measures will be set out by the British premier, such as prolonging a financial aid scheme to help businesses pay furloughed employees for an additional month to December, to parliament on Monday.
On Wednesday, Lawmakers will then vote on them respectively.
During the global pandemic, the ramped-up response came as Britain surpassed a million cases, after nearly 22,000 new infections was announced on Saturday, and 1,239 virus hospitalisations was climbed, this is the highest daily tally since late April.
The government’s scientific advisors have foreseen and warned that the Coronavirus prevalence, and resulting deaths and hospitalisations, are on the surge faster than their most dreadful predictions.
Flanking Johnson at the announcement, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that under the current trajectory hospital intensive care units and ventilator capacity could be overwhelmed by early December.
Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser reported that there was the potential for twice as many deaths as during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
– ‘No apologies’ –
Britain is already listed among the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with the total Covid-19 related deaths nearing 47,000, after another 326 fatalities were earlier announced.
Some European countries and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already reimposed partial lockdowns to try to curtail their increase rates.
Boris’s government, which is regulated for health policy in England strictly, had resisted the urge, frightening the economic fallout.
Instead it has carried on with a localised feedback system that relies on three tiers of Covid-19 alert.
Only at the soaring level, inflict in recent weeks on a number of regions and cities in central and northern England, are pubs and bars closed and indoor socialising banned.
Last month, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended a two-week national “circuit-breaker” lockdown over the half-term school holidays this past week, but Johnson declined the move.
On Saturday, Boris safeguarded the policy on adding: “It’s true that the course of the pandemic has changed and it’s right that the government should change and modulate its response in accordance, and I make absolutely no apologies for that.”
– ‘Very difficult choices’ –
But his commentators say that holding up the decision has arised in the need for an even longer lockdown now.
On Twitter, Sadiq Khan, who is London mayor who is of the main opposition, tweeted “Government delay has cost both lives and livelihoods,”
The British premier has also accepted hard hostility to another lockdown from within his own ruling Conservative party, from right-wing newspapers and also doctors and scientists who believe that lockdowns do not work and are too damaging.
One Tory MP, Steve Baker, met Johnson in Downing Street Saturday and afterwards admitted his boss faced “very difficult choices”.
Johnson earlier this year contracted COVID-19 and was treated in intensive care unit, though he was criticised for a slow response to the outbreak, delaying locking down Britain even as the number of positive cases and deaths spiralled across Europe.
Late March, Johnson, eventually imposed a national lockdown, locking down all non-essential shops and schools, and forcing millions to work from home to cut transmission surge rates.
The stay-at-home guidelines and regulations were lifted in June as cases decrease, with Johnson declaring in July the country could see “a more significant return to normality from November… possibly in time for Christmas in December”.