LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for strict regional measures to combat COVID-19, following Britain’s shutdown on December 2, sparking an uprising by members of his own party who say the do more harm than good.
Johnson’s office said late Saturday that the government plans to return to a three-tier system of restrictions, with areas facing different measures depending on the severity of their outbreak. Although it is likely that a much-criticized curfew at. 22.00 at bars and restaurants will be changed, levels are likely to include tighter restrictions than when they were first used in October, although more communities are expected to be placed in the two highest virus alarm categories.
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Steve Baker, one of 70 lawmakers who have written to Johnson with their concerns, said they could not support the move unless the government can show the planned restrictions after Dec. 2 will have an impact on declining COVID-19 transmission, “And will save more lives than they cost. ”
Johnson’s cabinet will meet on Sunday to work out details of the plan before the prime minister presents it to the House of Commons on Monday. Parliament must approve the plan before the new measures enter into force.
The debate comes as hopes grow that vaccines could eventually provide a way out of the pandemic, and public health officials say restrictions on social and business interactions across the UK have begun to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Johnson’s office confirmed plans to launch a nationwide vaccination program next month, provided regulators approve a COVID-19 vaccine. The government also says it will increase mass testing to fight the virus.
Meanwhile, the limitations of daily life continue through Christmas.
“We’re going back to a differentiated system, which is a far better way of tackling this on a local approach,” CFO Rishi Sunak told Sky News. “And with regard to Christmas, I find it just as frustrating as it is for all of us that Christmas will not be normal this year. ”
The original three-step regional approach was introduced on October 12, when the government tried to control an increase in COVID-19 cases without resorting to a national shutdown.
Under these rules, the highest level of restrictions forced pubs and bars to close, and people were advised not to travel outside their community. The second level prevented people from meeting indoors with anyone outside their household. Even at the lowest level, bars and restaurants were forced to close at. 22, and meetings with more than six persons were prohibited.
Now Johnson plans to tighten those measures.
The government’s scientific advisory group, known as SAGE, is expected to publish reports on Monday showing that the original three-step strategy was not strong enough and recommending stricter restrictions when it returns.
The regional approach was suspended in November when Johnson finally introduced a lockdown in England. This decision came after public health officials warned that an exponential rise in new coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm the National Health Service as the winter flu season approached.
The lock closed non-essential business like many shops, gyms, bars, restaurants. It also banned most social gatherings, but schools remain open.
Confirmed new cases of COVID-19 have started to fall across the UK, with the number of positive tests over the last seven days falling 13.8% from the week before. Authorities reported 2,861 COVID-related deaths during the last seven-day period, 17 fewer than a week earlier. Still, the infection rate remains high at 244 cases for every 100,000 people.
Britain has Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak with more than 54,700 deaths.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters Friday that while the lockdown has been a success in curbing the spread of the virus, people need to continue to follow the rules.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the government’s deputy director, warned that any gain from the November lockdown could be quickly lost by a virus that takes “just seconds” to spread.
People should “keep the pressure on this virus and push it down as much as possible right to the end of the period (of lockdown),” he said.
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