UK’s Johnson shares general confusion over virus rules

first_imgWith different measures in each UK nation, localized lockdowns and a rapidly changing national picture, many Britons are confused about coronavirus restrictions — including, it emerged Tuesday, the prime minister.Boris Johnson apologized on Twitter for having “misspoken” when asked about regional restrictions on socializing that are set to be imposed in northeast England from midnight.He sought to clarify that the “rule of six” limit on social gatherings in England does apply outdoors, after earlier telling reporters that it did not. Rules vary for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with early pub closings in some places but not in others, mixing with other families allowed here but not there, and many highly localized restrictions.In England, groups are restricted to six — except for grouse-shooting parties.Johnson’s own Conservative MPs are also indignant about the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of regulations that restrict personal freedom and can trigger large fines.More than 40 have signed an amendment making ministerial powers to tackle COVID-19 dependent on a vote by MPs — a check on what the rebels have said is rule “by decree”.For procedural reasons, the amendment is not expected to be put to a vote when it is debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, but it highlights the scale of the unease.One Tory MP, Steve Baker, was pictured on Monday wearing a T-shirt saying “2020 is the new 1984”, in reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel.Johnson will hold a press conference with his top health advisers on Wednesday to try to explain what the government is doing and explain the latest virus data, his spokesman said.The premier has been widely criticized for his government’s response to the first outbreak in the spring, while problems persist with testing and contact tracing programs.Topics : The rule was introduced earlier this month to replace what he himself said were “confusing” regulations.The opposition Labor party seized on the gaffe, with deputy leader Angela Rayner saying: “For the prime minister to not understand his own rules is grossly incompetent.”With 42,000 people confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in the UK, the highest toll in Europe, ministers are desperate to stop the virus spreading as it did in the spring.But the new rules have left many people angry, or at least puzzled.last_img

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