International

UK slows down deconfinement and imposes new restrictions

(London) Faced with a rise in cases of the new coronavirus, the British government on Friday postponed the next stage of deconfinement and imposed new restrictions on certain particularly affected areas of northern England.

Pauline FROISSART

France Media Agency

With nearly 46 000 deaths of people who test positive for the virus, the UK posts the heavier toll in Europe. The number of hospital admissions and deaths continues to drop, but infections are on the rise for the first time since May.

Criticized for having delayed reacting at the start of the pandemic, Boris Johnson's government now insists on wanting to react quickly and has multiplied the announcements in recent days, even if it means angering holidaymakers by re-establishing a quarantine on their return from Spain or complicate existing rules by imposing local restrictions.

On Friday, the Conservative Prime Minister postponed for at least two weeks the next easing scheduled for Saturday, explaining “that we must press the brake pedal to keep the virus under control.”

The casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and beauty salons were to reopen on Saturday as well as the performance halls. Wedding receptions of up to 26 were also to be allowed again.

The news was greeted with bitterness by the struggling music scene, which was about to welcome audiences once again. “Saddened, but not surprised,” Music Trust Venue, an association representing the sector, stressed that the expenses incurred to comply with health recommendations are added to the debts that accumulate.

The return of the public that began in recent days in sports arenas, during cricket matches and the world snooker championships in particular, has also been canceled.

Applied for the moment to businesses, the obligation to wear a mask will also be extended from August 8 to museums, cinemas and places of worship.

PHOTO ANDREW PARSONS, 09 DOWNING STREET VIA AFP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

“I know that the measures we take will be a real blow to many people, to anyone whose marriage plans have been disrupted or who cannot now celebrate Eid as they would like” , admitted Boris Johnson. “And I'm really, really sorry, but we just can't take a risk.”

“We have just told tens of thousands of workers that they could not return to work,” stressed the Labor opposition, calling on the government to extend compensation for short-time working.

“Limits” of deconfinement 89184577

In a weekly study published on Friday, the National Bureau of Statistics (ONS) observed an increase in contamination, with approximately 2800 new cases per day in England between 19 and on 26 July. The estimate was 2020 new daily cases in the previous week.

“What we are seeing […] is that we have probably reached the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society,” said Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

Faced with the resurgence of COVID cases – 14, new restrictions, announced on Thursday evening, were imposed on residents of parts of northern England on Friday.

Residents of Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire – around four million people – are now banned from meeting other people inside their homes or in their gardens.

The Scottish government strongly advises against travel to these areas.

Faced with the increase in the number of cases in Spain, the British government has also imposed since 24 July two weeks of quarantine for travelers from the country, taking by surprise thousands of tourists already there and others who were preparing to go there. Travelers arriving from Luxembourg must also isolate themselves 11 days.

Boris Johnson has warned other countries may follow, forcing Brits tempted to go abroad to think twice.

“We cannot make the mistake of thinking of ourselves as a safe haven,” said the leader, and “must be prepared to respond to the first signs of trouble.”

Close