Johnson issued an appeal to those who can work from home, asking them to before the virus is contained-weeks after the government launched a high-profile campaign to encourage people to return to the office and workplace.
He also announced that the use of masks will be mandatory for staff in the hotel and retail industries and passengers in taxis. Customers on public transportation and in shops already need masks. Moreover, mask authorization will become law, not just guidance.
Citizens and companies that violate the regulations will face fines; the government will provide additional police funds to help them enforce these restrictions. If the police are overwhelmed, the police can even choose to request military support. That doesn̵
Johnson said that if the situation does not improve, these measures can last six months, which means that many families cannot hold large gatherings during Christmas.
The new rules only apply to England. The health policies of the other three countries in the UK (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are determined by their decentralized governments; they will also tighten restrictions in the coming days.
This announcement is a critical moment for the United Kingdom, the country where the first wave of Covid-19 caused the most deaths in European countries and the worst recession of any major economy.
However, the exact measures that should be taken to solve the huge coronavirus problem in the UK is a heated political debate.
Johnson’s new measures will dissatisfy members of the Conservative Party in power on both sides of the debate, including members of his own cabinet.
This epidemic reveals a view that the government should prioritize economic recovery in the UK (after a 20.4% decline in GDP in the second quarter of 2020), and among those who believe that avoiding the second wave of Covid-19 is a priority Differences.
Senior people on the right of the party worry that the long-term effects of economic damage and unemployment will be greater than the damage caused by the virus itself. A person on the other side of the debate said that the second short-term “circuit breaker” lockup caused a blow to the economy and it was worth saving lives.
The relatively modest measures Johnson announced on Tuesday appeared to be an attempt to reassure both sides. The Prime Minister told Congress that he “will not listen to those who say that the virus rips apart”, nor will he listen to those who want a “permanent lock-in” state.
Critics have pointed out that the Johnson administration has only recently urged the United States to return to the office to save the streets and lanes of sandwich shops and bars that suffer because of commuters’ lack of daily trade.
The government has also introduced a popular “dining out” program, where diners can enjoy up to 50% discounts per person when dining in restaurants that were closed earlier by the pandemic.
Johnson has experienced the toughest months of a difficult term.
Not long ago, public health experts were talking about the true prospects of the second wave, which means that the government will have to choose between bars and schools.
At the time, government officials said that this situation was rough and that the pandemic cannot be considered a zero-sum game. They think they can eat cake.
But as the number of cases increases and the country prepares for what may be a brutal winter, Johnson may soon have to make a choice between economic and public health, personal freedom and national blockade.
This is not the position that any small country, the liberal conservative party’s prime minister has ever dreamed of.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly pointed out how long the new restriction will last. The story has been updated to reflect that it may be deployed for six months depending on the situation.