England to lock down for 4 weeks as coronavirus cases rise dramatically

england lockdown coronavirus boris johnson
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

In response to the increasing coronavirus case numbers throughout Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week England lockdown starting Nov. 5. The announcement came with news that the United Kingdom passed the 1 million mark in coronavirus cases, and it came on the heels of similar measures put into effect the week prior in France and Germany

According to CNN, the nation’s infection rate is on the rise. Government numbers by early November estimated that 1 in 100 people in England have contracted the coronavirus, compared with 1 in 2,300 in July and 1 in 200 at the beginning of October. 

The measure is precautionary based on hospital projections, with advisers informing Johnson that the National Health Service’s bed capacity would be surpassed by early December if no measures were taken.

Johnson also expressed concern with projected death numbers, according to the BBC. Scientific models project that without action, deaths during the winter months could be “twice as bad” as the initial wave this past spring. He was expected to address the House of Commons on Nov. 2 with those revelations to help convince the citizenry of the need for the new measures. 

With the latest lockdown—still to be voted on by Parliament on Nov. 4—people can only leave their homes for specific purposes. Those include work (if they cannot work from home), school, exercise, for medical reasons, or to buy food and other essential items.

The BBC also noted that the new lockdown measures will affect many facets of public life. Weddings will only be allowed in extraordinary circumstances, and funerals will be limited to 30 people. Meeting indoors or in private gardens will be prohibited, though individuals can meet one other person from another household in public outdoor spaces. Bars and restaurants will be closed to patrons, though they can still operate on a takeout basis. 

Travel will also be restricted under the new measures, according to a Sky report. That includes a near-total ban on outbound international travel, as well as a ban on overnight stays anywhere within the U.K. People can travel within the U.K., including by airplane, for work purposes during the lockdown. 

The England lockdown announcement met with some criticism from Johnson’s fellow Conservatives. CNN reported that former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, writing in the Telegraph, criticized the government for “giving in to the scientific advisers” on the lockdown. It further held that experts had “pressurized” Johnson into calling for the new restrictions. 

Sources: CNN, BBC, Sky

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