To “crush wherever it appears” the new coronavirus which is making a strong comeback and threatening to overwhelm health services, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday to close pubs in Liverpool and reactivate three field hospitals set up in the spring.
With more than 42,800 deaths, unparalleled in Europe, and nearly 618,000 positive cases, the United Kingdom is facing a new wave of contamination now affecting its entire territory and all its age groups.
“These numbers flash like warnings on an airplane’s dashboard. We must act now, “Boris Johnson told Britons on Monday evening, saying he was determined to” crush the virus wherever it appears “thanks to a simplified and unified version of the local restrictions imposed in recent weeks, which aim to avoid general containment .
While these now concern a quarter of the British population, especially in the North, the diversity of restrictions from one region to another made them illegible for some.
This is why the Prime Minister announced Monday, in front of the deputies then in front of the nation, a new system of warning at three levels – “medium”, “high” and “very high” – supposed to simplify from Wednesday the patchwork current restrictions for England alone, the other nations being competent to apply their own device.
The first level corresponds to the measures valid for the whole of England: gatherings limited to six people and closing at 10 p.m. for pubs and restaurants. At “high”, in areas currently under local restrictions, meetings between different households will be prohibited indoors.
In “very high” regions, additional measures will be applied with the support of local authorities, supported if necessary by the army.
In the Liverpool region (nearly 1.5 million people), in the north-west, an agreement has been reached to close pubs, bars, gyms and casinos, while discussions are underway with elected officials other areas of northern England.
“I know how difficult it is, but we cannot let down the National Health Service when lives are at stake”, pleaded the Prime Minister before the deputies, faced with the discontent of part of his opposite camp to excessively restrictive, economically difficult measures.
“This is not how we want to live, but it is the narrow path that we must trace between the socio-economic damage of a complete containment and the economic cost of an epidemic out of control”, a- he justified.
Health authorities have warned of the worrying situation in hospitals. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in England is now higher than it was when confinement was declared in late March. In the most affected regions, the hospital services which are not directly responsible for the epidemic are starting to see their functioning affected.
To help the health system, three of the large field hospitals set up in disaster in the spring, and since put on hiatus, have been instructed “to mobilize for the next few weeks to be ready to receive patients if necessary” , announced the medical director of the health service for England Stephen Powis.
These establishments are located in the North, but others may follow.
“There is still no cure, still no vaccine for COVID-19. Unfortunately, this means that as infections increase, the death toll will increase, ”Powis warned.
The new restrictions have been greeted with hostility by local elected officials in the north of England, who consider the employment support measures put in place by the executive insufficient and fear that their financial balance will be jeopardized.
Worried about a “catastrophic” effect on the nightlife of measures “unjust and without scientific logic”, the federation of bars and nightclubs NTIA has announced that it wants to challenge them in court.
On Friday, the government announced new employment assistance measures targeting businesses that are forced to remain closed because of restrictions on activity to fight the pandemic.
These companies will receive up to 3,000 pounds (nearly 3,310 euros) per month and their employees will be compensated up to two-thirds of their usual salary.