British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street wearing a face mask on his way to Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons in London, England on October 14, 2020.
David Cliff | NurPhoto via Getty Images
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended his administration’s decision to impose a second lockdown in England, saying there was “no alternative” to taking further action.
On Saturday, Johnson announced that England would have a one-month lockup period from November 5th to December 2nd. Under the new restrictions, people will be ordered to stay at home unless it is for an essential purpose, including education, medical reasons, or grocery shopping.
Pubs, bars and restaurants must be closed, except for takeout and delivery. Some industries where it is not possible to work from home, such as construction and manufacturing, are allowed to continue working. The restrictions apply to England only; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland enforce their own rules.
Johnson said in Parliament on Monday: “The models put forward by our scientists suggest that without action we could see up to twice as many deaths in winter as in the first wave. Given these latest numbers, there is no alternative but more action at national level Level to seize. “
The UK recently passed 1 million confirmed cases, with deaths rising to 46,807, according to Johns Hopkins University. 26,707 infections were reported as of October 21, but the death toll is far from the number during the peak of the outbreak in April.
UK lawmakers will vote on the new lockdown measures on Wednesday. Parliament is widely expected to pass the proposals thanks to the support of the opposition Labor Party, which has criticized the government for not acting sooner.
Previously, the government had tried to contain the rising number of Covid-19 cases and deaths with a three-tier system of local alert levels, with Tier 3 being the highest. The system has created confusion and frustration across the country.
“I make absolutely no apologies for doing my best – our best level in government – not to fall into a national lockdown again,” Johnson said on Monday, pushing back on claims that the government was too slow moved and their contact – tracing program was “broken”.
He said Labor leader Keir Starmer “should stop knocking on” the government’s track and trace program “because” we need people to self-isolate. “
Johnson said MPs would have the opportunity to vote on further restrictions when the second lockdown ends December 2nd.
To cushion the economic blow of a further lockdown, the UK government will extend a program to provide financial support to employees on leave until December.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday that the government would also increase financial aid to the self-employed this month to 80% of their trade profit, up from a previous cap of 40%. He added that the deadlines for applying for the government’s pandemic loan programs have been further extended to January 31, 2021.
All eyes will be on the Bank of England holding its final monetary policy meeting later in the week. While interest rates are not expected to dip into negative territory like others do, the central bank has taken such a move and even weighed it recently wrote to banks to see if they can handle rates that go below zero.