New COVID measures get mixed reactions
LONDON (UK) – The British government on Wednesday defended its new, stricter coronavirus measures while going against criticism that they did not got far enough. It said that it was only trying to strike a balance between supporting the economy and protecting health.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told citizens on Tuesday to work from home if possible. He also ordered restaurants and bars to close early. He said that these restrictions are likely to last six months.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gave interviews on Wednesday, six months on, after the government first imposed a national lockdown on March 23, it urged the public to adhere to the new rules to avoid a second lockdown.
Raab said on LBC radio, “What we don’t want is to have to take even more severe measures as we go through Christmas. And that’s why we need to take the proportional, targeted measures we’re taking now.”
On the other hand, Scotland’s semi-autonomous government has taken to more stringent measures, and it has raised doubts whether the steps taken in more populous England would be enough.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on ITV, “I’ve made a judgment that we are again at a tipping point with COVID and I’m looking at data that alarms me, frankly.”
She added that her scientific advisers said that the package announced by Johnson would not be enough to cut down the rate of transmission.
In England, people are allowed to still socialise with members of other households if it involves groups of up to six people.
Wales and Northern Ireland are also opting for some different measures to England.
According to a YouGov poll, 78% of people were in favour of the measures announced. At least 45% said Johnson should have implemented measures further while 32% were of the opinion that the restrictions were right.
On the business side, a sense of anxiety has kicked in over what effects the new restrictions would have on pubs, restaurants and other hospitality firms. The 10 pm closing time announced by Johnson was looked upon as ineffective with regard to bringing down transmission, however, it damaged business. Raab refuted these claims.
Prof John Edmunds of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, part of the government’s scientific advisory team, told BBC radio: “Overall, I don’t think the measures have gone anywhere near far enough. In fact, I don’t even think the measures in Scotland have gone far enough.”
He said very stringent measures would be implemented across the United Kingdom at some point “but it will be too late again”.