boris johnson, Source: Boris Johnson Covid-19 Presser by Number 10 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

England goes into hard lockdown as Boris Johnson goes nuclear

England goes into hard lockdown as Boris Johnson goes nuclear

The decision was announced after leaks and in the midst of reported massive infighting within the Prime Minister’s own Conservative Party

England is heading towards a national lockdown, resembling the one from earlier this year as the country grapples with the rise of COVID-19 infections. At a press conference yesterday evening, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measures that will come into force next Thursday, 5 November.

The announcement came after rumours of the lockdown were leaked to the press, amidst a rebellion from the Conservative Party’s own backbenchers and after a delay to the press conference itself.

Fighting on two fronts

Reaching the decision for a national lockdown saw the Prime Minister fighting on two separate fronts. On the one hand, it was him, a part of his cabinet, as well as medical experts who did not want to introduce the new measures but deemed them to be unavoidable.

Then, to his left, were Labour and their leader Keir Starmer, claiming that the government should have introduced a national lockdown weeks ago, when the UK first started experiencing the signs of the 2nd wave of COVID-19.

Finally, and perhaps most damaging to the government, are its own backbench MPs who did not want to introduce a lockdown at all, as it would damage the economy. Claiming that the loss of jobs would lead to far too many problems down the line that is in no way worth the lockdown, there are now reports of great dissent among party members.

In light of these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that the British government found itself paralysed and unable to produce an adequate response for weeks as the disease rampaged through the country.

The new measures that are being introduced

Come Thursday, the new rules that will come into force are as follows:

  • No leaving the house unless mandatory and for work or educational purposes
  • Indoor meetings and in gardens are forbidden. Public meetings, however, are allowed so long as there is only 1 member from a different household present.
  • Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops are to close down.
  • Gyms, leisure and entertainment venues will also close down.

What makes the measures different from the ones introduced during the last lockdown is the fact that schools and universities will remain open (much to the dismay and protestations of their employees) as will construction and manufacturing sites. The measures will be in effect for 4 weeks, when on 1 December, the country will go back to the old tiering system.

The decision for Boris Johnson to go for the nuclear option, which he swore he would not use just a few months prior, was obviously a difficult one – but also one that might have arrived too late. Nonetheless, the UK still faces a rough road ahead as it finds itself dealing not only with the disease but also with a deeply divided government.



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