UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced national lockdown restrictions as Europe faces a worrying spike in coronavirus deaths and infections.
The prime minister had been determined to avoid a national lockdown but has reportedly succumbed to his scientific advisers’ pressure. They argued that local measures would not be enough to clamp down on rising cases and that the virus could kill 85,000 people this winter.
Johnson told a press conference, almost three hours later than scheduled, that England faced “deaths of several thousand a day” if new tough measures are not adopted. “No responsible prime minister can ignore the message of those figures,” he said.
The other constituent parts of the UK – Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – have already issued tougher guidelines to prevent the virus’s spread.
The prime minister began his statement on the new restrictions by warning that people had to be “humble in the face of nature.”
The second lockdown will last for four weeks, he said.
Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus include:
-Schools, colleges, and universities will be allowed to stay open.
-People should leave their homes for education, medical appointments, shop for essential goods, and work if they cannot work from home.
-Outdoor exercise is permitted with other households.
-The extension of the furlough scheme, whereby the government pays 80 percent of an employee’s wages.
The UK recorded 21,915 positive tests on Saturday and 326 deaths, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University. Official figures also showed that more than half a million people were estimated to have had coronavirus in the week ending October 23.
Johnson became the latest leader to impose new measures to clamp down on COVID-19 cases that are spiking not only in the UK but also in Europe.
In the last two weeks, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Sweden all reported record numbers of new daily infections.
France reported 49,215 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared with 47,637 on Thursday. The death tally went up by 256 over 24 hours to 36,565.
On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said the country would “brutally apply the brakes” from Friday, introducing some of Europe’s strictest coronavirus measures. They will run until at least December 1.
According to the new rules, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods, medical reasons, and exercise for an hour a day. Anyone leaving their house must fill in a form to justify their reasoning, as was required during the first lockdown in March.
Belgium also went on a partial lockdown on Friday after The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said this week that the country had the highest number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people in Europe.
On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the “pressure on our hospitals is huge,” according to the BBC.
“These are last-chance measures if we want to get the figures down,” he added.
Austria followed suit by implementing new coronavirus measures on Saturday, which include an 8 pm curfew. It recorded its worst day of infections — 5,627 — on Friday.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of a “long and hard winter” as Germany also announced a partial lockdown this week, according to the BBC.
Although shops will remain open for delivery, gyms, theaters, and cinemas will close and
The country set a record for new daily coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, reporting 19,059 infections — up from its highest daily increase of 18,681, set the day before.
It also recorded 103 more COVID-19 deaths, with its total death tally rising to 10,452 on Saturday.
Coronavirus infections in Italy rose by 31,084 on Friday, a jump of over 4,000 in a day, while 199 more fatalities were recorded.
The country has also been struggling with hospital admissions, which have increased by over 1,000 in a day, according to the Guardian.
Sweden, which made headlines for its unconventional lockdown approach at the start of the pandemic, registered a new peak of 1,980 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the US also appears to have set a daily record for new infections on Friday, reporting nearly 90,000 new infections.
It has officially passed the 9 million case mark, the highest in the world.