UK plans tougher COVID-19 restrictions as virus spreads

2020-09-28 16:51:15
UK plans tougher COVID-19 restrictions as virus spreads

The British government plans tougher restrictions to control a swiftly accelerating second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, possibly outlawing more inter-household socializing.

“We don’t want to bring on new restrictions but of course we keep a constant eye on what is going on with the COVID rate,” Junior Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News. “We were looking at what we might be able to do.”

The Times newspaper said ministers were preparing to enforce a total social lockdown across much of northern England and potentially London. The paper said all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks.

Asked about The Times report, Whately said the country was at a really serious point and so COVID-19 had to be brought under control. She did not give a direct answer on the report that pubs would be closed.

“This is the moment when we have an opportunity - we have a choice for the country - to get this back under control,” Whately said. “We have to break these chains of transmission.”

She said pictures from the weekend, after pubs were ordered to close early which showed crowds of young revellers outside pubs, were “worrying”.

New virus infections, hospitalisations and deaths have all risen sharply across the UK in recent weeks.

Britain already has Europe's worst death toll from the pandemic, with about 42,000 confirmed deaths.

But scientists who are urging more restrictive measures are being challenged by critics fearing further damage to the economy.

Some lawmakers have criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government for abusing its power by restricting civil liberties without parliamentary approval.

Lawmakers and scientists have also criticised Johnson's Conservative government for problems with the national test-and-trace program that was supposed to help control the spread of the disease and reduce the need for limits on social interactions.

Young people have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, even though they are less likely to become seriously ill.

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