Categories
Boris COVID

Covid: Boris Johnson calls for ‘resolve’ to fight coronavirus over winter – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBoris Johnson said that collective health depends on “individual behaviour”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the public to “summon the discipline and the resolve” to follow the new coronavirus rules announced on Tuesday.

In a television broadcast to the country he warned the government may go further if people do not stick to them.

Mr Johnson said while the vast majority have complied with the measures so far, “there have been too many breaches”.

New restrictions were announced across the UK earlier, with Mr Johnson warning rules could last for up to six months.

In England, rules on face coverings have been expanded and the number of people allowed at weddings has been halved.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will have to close by 22:00 BST, while the fines for breaking the rules will also increase to £200 on the first offence.

Hospitality venues will also have to close early in Scotland and Wales – but Scotland has gone further, banning people from visiting other people’s homes. Northern Ireland has also already banned households mixing indoors.

It comes as the number of UK cases rose by 4,926 on Tuesday, government figures showed, with deaths increasing by 37.

‘Can’t just lock up elderly’

Speaking on Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson explained the new measures, saying they were “robust but proportionate”.

“And to those who say we don’t need this stuff, and we should leave people to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own,” he said.

“The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.

“And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic, because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.”

Mr Johnson said he was “deeply, spiritually reluctant” to infringe on anyone’s freedom, but added: “Unless we take action the risk is that we will have to go for tougher measures later.”

“If people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further,” he added.

More police will be put on the streets and the Army will be used as back-up if need be, he said.

“If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together,” he added. “There are unquestionably difficult months to come.

“And the fight against Covid is by no means over. I have no doubt, however, that there are great days ahead.

“But now is the time for us all to summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBoris Johnson: “It would be tempting to think the threat had faded”

In her statement on Tuesday evening, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In a global pandemic of a virus with as yet no vaccine, we simply can’t have 100% normality. No country can. So we must choose our priorities.”

She said that although “today must feel like a step backwards”, the country is “in a much stronger position than in the spring”.

“It won’t last forever and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it,” she said.

And she added: “I will never find the words to thank all of you enough for the enormous sacrifices you have made so far. And I am sorry to be asking for more.”

Meanwhile, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “In the weeks and months ahead of us, there is a very real possibility we could see coronavirus regain a foothold in our local communities, towns and cities. None of us wants to see that happen again”.

And Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has said tougher restrictions being imposed in the nation do not represent a second lockdown but should act as a “wake-up call”.

A televised address from the prime minister is not the rarity it once was, but it’s still a big moment.

The coronavirus pandemic has required Boris Johnson to appeal directly to the public on more than one occasion.

The gravity of the situation is such that, his argument goes, a renewed national effort is required to bring the virus back under control.

Behind the echoes of wartime rhetoric and Johnsonian linguistic flourishes was a simple message; stick with it for six months and we’ll get through this.

But as he acknowledged, there are some who say he’s taking the wrong decisions and the public’s patience for further restrictions may not be what it was six months ago.

There was optimism that better days lay ahead but a vaccine and mass testing were “hopes and dreams” not the reality, not now.

Scotland’s First Minister had gone further so comparisons will be inevitable; which tactics will work?

While England and the UK’s nerve is being tested again, so too is the prime minister and the government’s leadership and its strategy.

Earlier, Mr Johnson told MPs that the new rules were “carefully judged” to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number – which measures how quickly the virus is spreading – while causing “the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods”.

If these restrictions fail to bring the R number below one – the point where the epidemic is no longer growing – “then we reserve the right to deploy greater fire power with significantly greater restrictions” he said.

The latest R estimate for the whole of the UK is between 1.1 and 1.4.

Mr Johnson said that unless progress was made, people should assume the restrictions would remain in place “for perhaps six months”.

But Ms Sturgeon said the rules in Scotland would “not necessarily” be in place for as long as six months – and would be reviewed every three weeks.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC the new restrictions could have been avoided if the government “fixed testing and tracing”.

Mr Ashworth said Labour supported the new measures but that “we shouldn’t have been here”.

“So what we need to do now is drive infections down, we all need to follow the rules, but the government in return have really got to fix this testing system and this tracing system, and give people the support when they need to isolate.”

What are the new rules?

In England:

  • Office workers are being told to work from home again if possible
  • Penalties for not wearing a mask or gathering in groups of more than six will increase to £200 on the first offence
  • From Thursday 24 September, all pubs, bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service only. Takeaways can continue
  • Also from Thursday, hospitality venues must close at 22:00 – which means shutting then, not calling for last orders (in Scotland the same curfew rule comes into force on Friday)
  • Face coverings must be worn by all taxi passengers from Wednesday
  • Retail staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues will also have to wear masks from Thursday, except when seated at a table to eat or drink
  • From Monday 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings and civil partnerships, in groups of six. Funerals can still take place with up to 30 people
  • Also from 28 September, you can only play adult indoor sports in groups of less than six
  • The planned return of spectators to sports venues will now not go ahead from 1 October

In Scotland:

  • People across Scotland are being advised not to visit other households indoors from Wednesday 23 September onwards. This will become law from Friday
  • There will be exceptions for those living alone, or alone with children, who form extended households. The rules will also not apply to couples who do not live together, or to tradespeople or for the provision of informal childcare – such as by grandparents
  • From Friday, pubs and restaurants will have to close by 22:00
  • The first minister urged people not to book overseas travel for the October school holiday

In Wales:

  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will have to close by 22:00 from Thursday – and sales of alcohol from off-licences and supermarkets will also be stopped after that time
  • Pubs will also be required to provide table service only

In Northern Ireland:

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson says UK ‘seeing a second wave coming in’ of coronavirus, claims it was ‘inevitable’ – Fox News

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said the U.K. is “seeing a second wave” of coronavirus infections — as he says he wants to keep schools and the economy open as much as possible.

“Obviously, we’re looking carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days, and there’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect, and we are now seeing, a second wave coming in,” he said.

US-UK TRADE DEAL FACES POTENTIAL HURDLES FROM BIDEN, CONGRESS OVER BREXIT FIGHT

He noted that countries like Spain and France had seen spikes and that was “absolutely inevitable, I’m afraid, that we would see it in this country.”

The government implemented “the rule of six” earlier this week that limits gatherings to six people, along with a number of other local lockdowns in an effort to stop the increase in infections the country has seen in recent weeks.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks to his office in Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2src2src.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks to his office in Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

This week, the government tightened restrictions in the northwest of England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire in response to local case spikes.

The U.K. has largely opened its economy, including schools — which resumed full, in-person learning at the beginning of the month. Officials have been wary about rolling back those national reopenings, and Johnson expressed similar reservations — although he did not rule out a second national lockdown.

“We want to keep schools open, that’s going to happen, we’re going to try and keep all parts of the economy open as far as we possibly [can] — I don’t think anyone wants to go into a second lockdown, but clearly when you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we brought in on Monday,” he said.

People queue up outside a coronavirus testing centre offering walk-in appointments in north London, Friday Sept. 18, 2src2src.  (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)

People queue up outside a coronavirus testing centre offering walk-in appointments in north London, Friday Sept. 18, 2020.  (Kirsty O’Connor/PA via AP)

“So, we’ll be looking at the local lockdowns we’ve got in large parts of the country now, looking at what we can do now to intensify that, to bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures as well,” he added.

Sky News reported that officials were considering proposals for a “circuit break” that would involve essential travel to schools and workplaces continuing, but restaurants and bar closed or running on restricted hours.

Johnson later doubled down on how he doesn’t want to do a second lockdown: “What I don’t want to do is go into a second national lockdown of the kind we had in March and April — I don’t want to do that again.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

A survey released by the Office for National Statistics found that an average of 6,000 in England were estimated to have been infected between Sept. 4-10, about double the previous week.

Meanwhile, the U.K. registered 27 deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 41,732.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson faces rebellion over Brexit powers that breach international law – BBC News – BBC News


Boris Johnson wins Commons backing for Brexit powers that breach international law – BBC News – YouTube
























































































Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson Wants Scope to Boost Government Intervention, Rattling Brexit Talks – The Wall Street Journal

For decades, Britain’s Conservative Party politicians decried the European Union for its supposed aversion to free markets.

Now trade negotiations that will define the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU from next year have stalled, in large part because Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government wants the freedom to ignore EU rules limiting state subsidies of private companies.

With trade talks restarting Tuesday, and little sign of quick progress, this impasse is increasing fears among officials on both sides that a trade deal won’t be secured by the end of the year, resulting in tariffs and a host of other barriers to trade amounting to $800 billion annually. Mr. Johnson said his government would walk away from talks if a deal isn’t reached by Oct. 15.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free-trade agreement between us,” Mr. Johnson said Monday. “And we should both accept that and move on.”

EU officials say the bloc remains intent on striking a deal but that Mr. Johnson’s government will need to make some major concessions. The bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said the end of October is the effective deadline for an agreement. The pound has fallen against the dollar on fears that talks will collapse.

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson's

Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis to be made into TV drama – NBC News

The prolific English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is set to co-write and direct a TV series that dramatizes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the production companies behind the project announced Friday.

The untitled series will “tell the true story of the biggest national and personal crisis to face a government leader since World War II,” the companies — Fremantle, Passenger and Revolution Films — said in a joint statement.

Johnson, who was hospitalized in an intensive care unitafter testing positive for COVID-19 in April, has been criticized for his response to the public health crisis.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The United Kingdom has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe — more than 43,000 as of Friday afternoon — and the second-highest death toll per capita in the world.

The prime minister has come under particular scrutiny for his actions in the run-up to the British outbreak, with some experts claiming he waited too long to impose social restrictions and failed to adequately prepare the National Health Service with personal protective equipment.

Shortly after he was discharged from hospital, Johnson, 56, welcomed a new son — his first child with his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, 32.

“There are rare moments in history when leaders find their private lives uniquely connected to national events, where personal experience and official role collide in an unusual way,” Fremantle chief operating officer Andrea Scrosati said in a statement.

“The last few months in the life of the U.K. Prime Minister clearly mark one of these moments,” Scrosati added.

Winterbottom, 59, is widely considered one of the busiest and most eclectic filmmakers in British cinema, having directed more than 30 feature-length films in the last 25 years, including the recent financial satire “Greed,” starring frequent collaborator Steve Coogan.

He also directed three installments of the award-winning comedy series “The Trip,” co-starring Coogan.

“Michael Winterbottom is the ideal filmmaker to tell the story of the extraordinary events surrounding Boris Johnson’s new government and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has captured the attention of the world,” co-producer Richard Brown said in a statement.

Image: Daniel ArkinDaniel Arkin

Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News.

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson decries ‘racist thuggery’ after London protests become violent | TheHill – The Hill

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday decried “racist thuggery” after violent clashes broke out between far-right protestors and anti-racism demonstrators in London.

The violence took place amid escalating unrest in the U.S. and other parts of the world in wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. In response, protestors in the U.K. have targeted monuments of figures they’ve deemed symbols of racism in recent weeks. 

On Saturday, counterprotestors gathered for what was advertised as a demonstration to “protect the monuments” in Parliament Square. The protest was announced after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol and graffiti was tagged on a statue of Winston Churchill

Thousands of people travelled into London for the demonstration, which resulted in violent scuffles between right-wing protestors and demonstrators speaking out against racism. Video captured in Parliament Square showed right-wing protestors at one point pelting horse-mounted police officers with bottles and cans.

Stones were also lobbed at police at a bridge near the Waterloo train station, Reuters reported.

“Racist thuggery has no place on our streets,” Johnson said on Twitter. “Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law. These marches & protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines.”

“Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality,” he added. 

Racist thuggery has no place on our streets. Anyone attacking the police will be met with full force of the law. These marches & protests have been subverted by violence and breach current guidelines. Racism has no part in the UK and we must work together to make that a reality.

— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) June 13, 2020

The London Metropolitan Police Department said that more than 100 people were arrested on Saturday for offenses including breach of the peace, violent disorder and assault on officers. 

The city had walled off statues of Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi ahead of the protests to avoid any possible damage, The Guardian reported. The Metropolitan police said Sunday that it had arrested a 28-year-old man for allegedly urinating on a memorial dedicated to Keith Palmer, a police officer killed by a terrorist in 2017. 

The arrest came after a photo appeared on social media apparently showing the suspect committing the act.

London mayor Sadiq Khan blamed Saturday’s events on “right-wing extremists” and commended police for how they controlled the situation. 

“Millions of Londoners will have been disgusted by the shameful scenes of violence, desecration and racism displayed by the right-wing extremists who gathered in our city today,” he said. 

Millions of Londoners will have been disgusted by the shameful scenes of violence, desecration and racism displayed by the right-wing extremists who gathered in our city today.

In the face of attacks and abuse, our police did a fantastic job to control the situation. Thank you.

— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 13, 2020

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd said, “I cannot breathe.” The incident spurred massive demonstrations throughout the world, as well as a renewed push from many activists for statues dedicated to figures who espoused racist views to be removed. 

In the U.S., protestors have toppled several statutes commemorating leaders of the Confederacy. 

Churchill is widely admired in the U.K. for leading to the country during World War II, though some demonstrators have argued that he expressed racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. Johnson said last week that it was “shameful” that a Churchill statue was facing the threat of being targeted. 

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson says attacking statues is ‘lying about our history’ – Fox News

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced the demolition of statues, calling it an effort to “censor” the past.

In a Twitter essay posted on Friday morning, Johnson launched into a targeted criticism of the current Black Lives Matter protesters in the UK: the continuing effort to tear down statues of figures who profited from the slave trade.

It comes amid global protests on police brutality and race relations, with protesters recently throwing a statue of noted slave trader Edward Colston into a Bristol harbor.

London mayor Sadiq Khan earlier in the week announced plans to create a commission aimed at reviewing statues, plaques and street names in London to more “suitably reflect London’s achievements and diversity.”

A protective covering installed overnight surrounds the statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, London, Friday, June 12, 2src2src, following Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the UK over the weekend. The protests were ignited by the death of George Floyd, who died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

A protective covering installed overnight surrounds the statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, London, Friday, June 12, 2020, following Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the UK over the weekend. The protests were ignited by the death of George Floyd, who died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Johnson called it an “absurd and shameful” display that works to create a “lie” about British history. He expressed his concerns as a statue of Winston Churchill has been boarded up for protection ahead of more protests this weekend.

The statue of Churchill had previously been defaced during protests, with the words “was a racist” scrawled across the base.

Protesters gather around a vandalized Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square on Sunday. (AP)

Protesters gather around a vandalized Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square on Sunday. (AP)

“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past,” he tweeted. “We cannot pretend to have a different history.”

Johnson mainly appealed to the sense of a changing time, that the figures of the past had “different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong.”

“To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come,” he added.

The prime minister went on to voice concerns that the movement has been hijacked by extremists to indulge in violence, a sentiment that echoes similar concerns the U.S. faced throughout the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP 

The U.S. has seen a rash of statue demolitions as protesters have taken it into their own hands to tear down statues of former Confederate officers. Officials in several cities are planning to officially remove the statues.

The most recent focus has been on the removal of Christopher Columbus statues, with one statue in Boston beheaded by protesters.

Read More

Categories
Boris Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to face senior MPs amid Cummings row – BBC News

Boris Johnson/ Dominic Cummings

Image copyright
Getty Images

Boris Johnson will be questioned by senior MPs later amid continued calls for his top adviser to resign.

The prime minister will appear before the Commons Liaison Committee for 90 minutes, during which he will be asked about Dominic Cummings’ controversial lockdown trip to County Durham.

More than 35 Tory MPs have called for Mr Cummings to resign or be fired after his 260-mile journey came to light

But cabinet minister Robert Jenrick told the BBC it was “time to move on”.

Wednesday’s session, due to begin at 16.00 BST, will be the first time that the PM has faced questions from MPs since the allegations against Mr Cummings emerged at the end of last week.

Among those set to question the PM will be the committee’s chairman, Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, former Tory cabinet ministers Greg Clark and Karen Bradley, ex-Labour minister Hilary Benn and the SNP’s Pete Wishart.

The bulk of the hearing will be devoted to the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic – with the section on Mr Cummings’ actions due to last less than 30 minutes.

Mr Cummings’ decision in March to drive from his London home to his parents’ farm in County Durham with his wife – who had coronavirus symptoms – and his son has dominated the headlines since the story broke on Friday night.

The PM’s chief adviser gave a news conference on Monday, explaining that Mr Cummings decided to make the trip because he felt it would be better to self-isolate in a place where he had options for childcare if required.

He has received the continued support of the prime minister, who said that his aide had acted legally and with integrity.

But cross-party critics have called for Mr Cummings to leave No 10, while junior minister Douglas Ross resigned in protest.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Mr Cummings has defended his trip to County Durham during lockdown

Sir Bob Neill, Tory MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, is among those calling for Mr Cummings to resign, saying the row had become a “distraction”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Cummings had “real talents and abilities” but “no adviser is indispensable”.

However, in a note to fellow MPs, Danny Kruger, former political secretary to Mr Johnson and now Tory MP for Devizes, said demanding the resignation of Mr Cummings was “basically declaring no confidence in the PM”.

In response, Sir Bob said he didn’t accept this, adding: “This is actually about us wanting to help the prime minister to get back to be able to focus on the key task of pulling the country together.”

But Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said Mr Cummings’s actions were “within the law” and he retained the backing of the cabinet.

“It doesn’t look as if any of the guidelines or the rules have been broken,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“And so my view is that now we accept that and we move on because there are many many more important issues that we need to be talking about….like the track and trace system, for example, that’s going to have a big impact upon millions of people’s lives.”

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said Downing Street clearly hoped the storm would subside and MPs and the media would move on to other issues.

What is the liaison committee?

Image copyright
House of Commons

Image caption

Sir Bernard Jenkin’s choice to head the committee was controversial

The Liaison Committee – a panel of 37 MPs who chair various select committees – is the only Commons committee that can question the prime minister.

This will be Mr Johnson’s first appearance since he became PM last July.

The committee’s new chairman, Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, announced the session last week – before Mr Cummings’ controversial trip came to light.

Sir Bernard was appointed to his new role last week even though he no longer chairs a committee of his own and despite a cross-party attempt to block his appointment.

The MP, who previously chaired the Public Administration Committee, was a leading member, alongside Mr Johnson, of the 2016 campaign to get Britain out of the EU.

Conservative Tobias Ellwood – who chairs the defence select committee – appeared unhappy on Twitter he was not on the list of MPs asked to appear, and was retweeted by fellow Tory Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the foreign affairs committee.

But a statement from Sir Bernard said the whole Liaison Committee had “unanimously agreed” the members of the working group who would be joining him for the session.

Content available only in the UK

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson under pressure to sack his chief adviser, as a growing scandal threatens to break Britain’s lockdown – CNN

London (CNN)Boris Johnson has refused to sack Dominic Cummings, standing by his embattled chief aide despite a growing scandal in the UK over his reported decision to break lockdown restrictions multiple times.

“I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,” Johnson said at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday.
The Prime Minister added that Cummings had “no alternative” but to drive 260 miles across England to stay with his parents while his wife was sick with Covid-19 symptoms.
Ministers have spent much of the weekend loyally defending Dominic Cummings, the enigmatic aide often portrayed as the mastermind behind Johnson’s premiership, after it emerged he and his wife made at least one journey to Durham.
But Cummings’ position became more perilous still on Sunday, after fresh claims emerged that he had in fact broken the UK’s coronavirus lockdown on multiple occasions throughout April.
The saga has descended into scandal in Britain, quickly becoming a defining moment in the country’s much-scrutinized response to the coronavirus pandemic and threatening to undermine the lockdown rules Johnson has spent eight weeks pleading with Britons to follow.
And its timing is particularly unfortunate for the Prime Minister, who has overseen the deadliest Covid-19 outbreak in Europe and who was forced into an embarrassing U-turn on a controversial fee for immigrant health care workers just days earlier.
But his refusal to let Cummings go ensures the controversy will continue to overshadow the country’s coronavirus response in the coming days.

Calls for Cummings to be sacked

The uproar over Cummings’ behavior began on Friday evening when two newspapers, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror, revealed he had traveled from London to Durham to stay at his parents’ property at the end of March while his wife had coronavirus symptoms.
The journey appeared a clear breach of the UK’s lockdown, with Cummings’ boss Johnson repeatedly urging the public to “stay at home” and “save lives,” and has dominated front pages in the country throughout the weekend.
But Downing Street has stood by the aide, insisting he needed his parents to care for his child in case Cummings also became sick with symptoms, which he later did. “Caring for your wife and child is not a crime,” minister Michael Gove tweeted, one of a number of leading government figures to claim the lockdown allowed for such trips.
It marked a notable shift from previous episodes regarding the lockdown. When leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson was forced to resign from the scientific body advising the government for breaching lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was left speechless by the “extraordinary” breach. On Saturday, Hancock said Cummings’ trip was “entirely right.”
That defense was bruised on Sunday, after the same papers dropped new details alleging Cummings had been seen in the Durham area on multiple occasions after his initial trip. Downing Street has rebutted the subsequent claims, saying in a statement that they “will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr. Cummings from campaigning newspapers.”
Cummings’ influence over ministers is well documented in the British political press, but Downing Street’s approach is no longer being followed by several of Johnson’s own backbenchers, who one by one began to call on Cummings to go on Sunday.
“Enough is enough,” Conservative lawmaker Steve Baker wrote in an opinion piece for The Critic website. “Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party.”
And concerns have been raised that the government’s defense of Cummings’ behavior has given implicit permission to the public to interpret the lockdown rules however they see fit.
“There cannot be one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for the British people,” the opposition Labour Party said in a statement. “What worries me most is that some of the most senior politicians in the government have spent the weekend undermining laws and public health messaging designed to protect the public in the pandemic. All to defend their friend,” its shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy added.

Johnson forced into NHS U-turn

Critics of Johnson fear the Cummings controversy will mark a turning point in the British public’s attitudes towards lockdown, but the Prime Minister had already suffered through a torrid few days.
On Thursday the Prime Minister was forced into his first major policy U-turn since winning a sizable majority in December’s general election, agreeing to scrap a heavily criticized fee that overseas NHS and health care workers were forced to pay while simultaneously working on the front lines of the country’s coronavirus battle.
“We cannot clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next,” said Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is proving a formidable opponent to Johnson as he settles into the position he took over in April. Starmer was referring to the weekly round of applause for health workers that Britons have been taking part in.
Johnson had defended the surcharge as late as Wednesday, telling MPs “we must look at the realities” and insisting the fee was “the right way forward” to provide the NHS with funding.
But by Thursday the policy was gone, amid growing discontent among Tory backbenchers. The change in tone added to the criticism Johnson has faced over the NHS, with opponents pointing to a lack in personal protective equipment (PPE) and a slow rate of testing.
Throughout the controversies, Britain’s death toll has continued to climb. Though it is well past its peak of cases and deaths, the country has seen more fatalities from Covid-19 than any other country in Europe, with more than 36,000 in total.
The country is entering its final week under the current phase of lockdown. From June 1, the government will look to lift certain restrictions as it paves a way back towards normality.

Read More

Categories
Boris Johnson

PM Boris Johnson forced to clarify UK lockdown advice – Al Jazeera English

In his first statement to Parliament on the coronavirus pandemic, months after the beginning of the outbreak in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday issued a lengthy clarification to his government’s advice over the lifting of lockdown measures.

He had addressed citizens on Sunday evening in a recorded televised address, but his statement was criticised for prompting more questions than it had answered.

More:

The prime minister, who was himself hospitalised with the virus, said those people who could not work from home should return to their usual places of work, but did not specify who those people were, when they should return, or what bosses should do to ensure those workplaces were safe.

He also said public transport should be avoided where possible, but confusion about who should be returning to work, as well as drastically-reduced services, led to chaotic scenes on Monday morning of crowded London Underground platforms leaving commuters with no chance of social distancing.

Adding to the confusion was Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary who deputised for Johnson when the prime minister was sick, as he appeared to change the government’s lockdown advice three times within an hour during appearances on Monday morning talk shows.

Raab told Sky News that government scientists were studying whether there could be limited contact between family members who live in separate households.

He then told BBC News that a person could see both of their parents, as long as they did so outdoors, and one at a time – “mum in the morning and dad in the afternoon”, while maintaining social distancing of two metres.

Subsequently interviewed on BBC Radio 4, Raab said that people could meet both of their parents at the same time, for example, in a park, as long as they kept to the two-metre distancing rule.

Johnson made his statement in the House of Commons in the afternoon, and led a later-than-usual news briefing in the evening.

“Our challenge now is to find a way forward that preserves our hard-won gains while easing the burden of lockdown,” he told Parliament. “This is a supremely difficult balance.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said the government had been issuing conflicting guidance that did not answer the public’s practical questions about going back to work.

“What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance, but at the moment both are in pretty short supply,” he said.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Very worried that – even after this second statement from PM – people still don’t have answers on what safety measures to expect at work, nor clarity on transport or childcare. There must be no pressure to return to work unless and until those questions are answered & safety assured.”

Devastating critique of government’s handling of crisis by Greg Clark: strategy didn’t drive testing capacity – lack of testing capacity drove strategy.

Decision to abandon community testing meant we had a “self-imposed blindfold”, unable to collect vital data as virus spread

— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) May 11, 2020

On Monday, the government published a 51-page document entitled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”, followed by a series of sector-by-sector documents offering guidance to employers and workers.

“It’s the common sense of the British people that has been so crucial in the whole of the UK in getting the [transmission rate] down,” Johnson said. “It’s by applying common sense that we’ll be successful in this second phase as well.”

The plan includes a staged undertaking to allow businesses to reopen, advice on avoiding public transport and wearing face coverings as well as a 14-day quarantine for most international arrivals.

Visitors from Ireland and France will be exempt from the quarantine, and it remains unclear if those coming to London on the Eurostar train from France, but which also has connections from across Europe, will be subject to quarantine. 

While the clarification for business was broadly welcomed, the prime minister failed to convince the leaders of the United Kingdom’s constituent nations, with officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all saying they would stick to the previous lockdown rules.

While Johnson’s advice was that, from Wednesday, people would be allowed to travel unlimited distances by car, as long as they observed social distancing when they got to their destination and did not stay overnight, Wales and Scotland – which have had devolved powers since the end of the 1990s – said travel there remained for essential journeys only, and warned would-be English visitors that police would be enforcing lockdown restrictions.

8️⃣0️⃣% of COVID-19 fines issued over the bank holiday weekend were to people who had travelled to Dyfed-Powys from outside the area.

💭 Please remember that travel in Wales is still only for essential purposes.

Read more here: https://t.co/p2wG7NKrTV pic.twitter.com/owa0XrS7JU

— HeddluDPPolice #StayHomeSaveLives (@DyfedPowys) May 11, 2020

“The prime minister and his closest advisers knew back in March, even before the lockdown was imposed, that imposing it would be the easy part – but coming out of it would be the really complicated thing, and so it is proving,” said Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from London.

“There was something clear and simple and concrete about a simple message of ‘stay at home’. With the new arrangements that are being proposed, people are being given more freedom, they’re being asked to apply a degree of common sense, and that means there is a possibility of different levels of enforcement. On that basis, it means that people might do wrong – they actually find themselves bumping into people they shouldn’t be, down at parks, for example.”

A further 210 people had died after contracting coronavirus in the 24 hours to Sunday evening, Johnson said at the evening briefing, bringing the UK’s death toll to 32,065, according to government figures. It is the highest death toll of any European country, and second only to the United States. 

At the briefing, Johnson did not take questions from the media, and instead responded to questions from members of the public, including one who asked for clarity on the earlier question of someone meeting family members who do not live with them. Johnson replied that, while social distancing was maintained, one member of one household could meet another member of the same family from another household – but anything more than a one-on-one would be “pushing it too far” at this stage.

He also called on employers to “be understanding” with workers facing difficulties returning to work due to a lack of private transport, or who were facing a lack of childcare. Schools remain mostly shut but the government is hoping they can reopen to reception, year one and year six classes next month, with the remaining years of primary school opening before the end of the summer term in July, in a move that came as a surprise to many teachers.

“The fact of the matter is the government has announced a date but hasn’t come forward with a plan about how schools will ensure that they’re safe for pupils and safe for staff to be in,” Patrick Roach, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, told BBC Breakfast on Monday morning.

“And the prime minister said that it would be madness to risk a second spike in relation to transmission of the virus. Well, the profession has got very serious concerns about that announcement of June 1, whether indeed it is possible to achieve it, but also how to achieve that in a way which is safe for pupils and staff.”

The government on Monday did publish a document detailing suggestions for schools to keep children in small groups, staggering lunchtimes and increasing the frequency of cleaning. 

Meanwhile, a parody of Johnson’s Sunday night address by comedian Matt Lucas had been watched nearly five million times on Twitter by Monday night.

pic.twitter.com/k6Sr4Iac15

— realmattlucas (@RealMattLucas) May 10, 2020

“So we are saying don’t go to work, go to work, don’t take public transport, go to work, don’t go to work, stay indoors, if you can work from home, go to work,” Lucas said in a tone strongly reminiscent of Johnson’s distinctive speech.

“And then, we will or won’t, something or other.”



Read More