British parliamentarians have approved a month-long lockdown in England, voting in favour of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s plan to prevent COVID-19 “running out of control and overwhelming health services.”
Mr Johnson has insisted that the new coronavirus lockdown would end “automatically” in four weeks also giving parliament the assurance that measures would be lifted in time to give England the chance of a more normal Christmas.
The 516-38 vote had been in little doubt after opposition Labour Party members said they would support the move, even though they criticised Johnson for acting too slowly.
He was also criticised by some in his own party who said a national lockdown was too severe.
Senior minister, Michael Gove has however indicated the lockdown could last beyond a December 2 deadline if it failed to bring infection rates down.
The leader of the main opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer, told Johnson in parliament that it would be “madness” to end the measures on schedule if cases are still rising.
But the prime minister pointed to a city-wide testing pilot scheme set to launch in Liverpool on 6th November as a forerunner to a nationwide programme, and said the lockdown would “end automatically on December 2”.
“We will then, I hope very much, be able to get this country going again, to get businesses, to get shops open again in the run-up to Christmas,” Johnson said.
The United Kingdom is facing more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Britain has nearly 48,000 confirmed deaths linked to the coronavirus from just more than one million positive cases.
A total of 492 deaths, within 28 days of a positive test, were recorded on 4th November – the highest since mid-May.
Other nations of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have imposed tighter restrictions. Some European nations including France and Germany have also recently imposed nationwide lockdowns.
“When I look at what is happening now among some of our continental friends, and I see doctors who have tested positive being ordered to work on COVID wards and patients airlifted to hospital in some other countries simply to make space, I can reach only one conclusion,” Johnson said.
“I’m not prepared to take the risk with the lives of the British people.”
The English lockdown measures include a return to working from home where possible and the closure of all non-essential shops and services, including pubs, bars and restaurants.
The government has also announced the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak will publicize new financial support measures to mitigate the effects of the lockdown. Also, the Bank of England is expected at its latest policy meeting to boost its cash stimulus to fight the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The UK’s central bank is widely predicted to push an extra £100 billion ($130bn) under its long-running “quantitative easing” programme, bringing the total to £845 billion ($1,100).
The bank is also likely to revise down its forecasts for UK economic growth.
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