UK’s Boris Johnson considering new lockdown amid rising COVID-19 numbers
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering implementing new national lockdown restrictions as early as next week amid worsening coronavirus positivity and hospitalization rates.
The U.K. reported 24,405 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing its total to 989,700 infections since the start of the pandemic, according to the country’s public health department.
As of Saturday morning, more than 46,229 people in the U.K. have died as a result of the virus, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.
The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey found cases “continued to rise steeply” through last week, with an estimated 568,100 infections.
According to the British Times, Johnson is expected to hold a press conference Monday to announce the new lockdown measures, which could include the closure of all nonessential businesses, with “educational settings,” including nurseries, schools and universities remaining open.
The outlet reported that sources indicated the new restrictions could be officially implemented Wednesday and remain in place until Dec. 1.
A senior government official told The Times that no final decision had been made yet, but added that “the data is really bad.”
“We’re seeing COVID-19 rising all over the country and hospitals are struggling to cope. There has been a shift in our position,” the source reportedly said.
Earlier this month, Johnson unveiled new coronavirus measures, including a tier system to make coronavirus restrictions easier to understand after some in Johnson’s Conservative Party alleged the confusing messaging has led to the rise in cases.
The prime minister had been hesitant to call for another national lockdown as the U.K. economy is still attempting to recover from the first one in the spring.
Next week’s expected U.K. coronavirus measures come after both France and Germany on Wednesday announced lockdowns as Europe experiences a second wave of infections.
On Monday, France announced a record number of cases with more than 52,000 infections recorded in a single day. More than 500 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported Wednesday, the most since the first surge of cases in France in the spring.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at a news conference Wednesday.
Under the second national lockdown, nonessential businesses such as restaurants and bars will close and people will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential work or medical reasons, according to Macron.
That same day, neighboring Germany announced a partial, month-long shutdown that will close down bars, restaurants and gyms. Italy and Spain have announced new curfews in the past week, with the Italian government shutting down athletic facilities and cinemas on Sunday.