UK PM Johnson to impose further COVID-19 restrictions but pubs angry

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday impose a tiered system of further restrictions on parts of England as the COVID-19 outbreak accelerates, though anger is rising at the cost of the stringent curtailment of freedoms.

Johnson has chaired an emergency response committee, known as a COBRA meeting, and will then address parliament at around 1430 GMT, offering lawmakers a vote later in the week on the measures. He will then hold a press conference.

Johnson’s three-tiered local lockdowns will include shutting bars, gyms, casinos and bookmakers in some areas placed into the “very high” alert level, probably across the north of England, British media reported.

“Pretty much all areas of the UK are now seeing growths in the infection rate,” England Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam told reporters. “The epidemic, this time, has clearly picked up pace in the north of England earlier than it did in the first wave.”

Van-Tam said the freshest data showed infections were rising across the north of England and in some more southerly areas too while the virus was creeping up age bands towards the elderly from those aged 16-29 years.

“Nightingale” emergency field hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been told to mobilise, NHS England’s Medical Director Steve Powis said.

Manchester intensive care consultant Jane Eddleston said 30% of critical care beds were taken up with COVID-19 patients – starting to impact on healthcare for others.

Lockdown fatigue

But as millions of people across the United Kingdom grapple with a patchwork of local restrictions, the hospitality sector says it is being brought to its knees by the government.

A group of English pub and nightclub owners led by Manchester club night and events operator Sacha Lord will instruct lawyers to begin opposing the government if Johnson orders pubs closed.

“If he is suggesting that pubs and bars need to shut down in Greater Manchester, we’re launching an immediate judicial review,” Lord, creator and operator of Manchester’s Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, told Reuters.

Lord has the support of The Night Time Industries Association, the British Beer and Pub Association, JW Lees Brewery, Joseph Holts Brewery, New River Pub Company, and a host of other operators in northwest England.