Johnson, Sturgeon Address U.K. and Scotland on New Measures to Covid-19

Date: 2020-09-22 19:46:37

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(Sept. 22) U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pre-recorded address to the nation about the latest measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Followed by the taped address of the Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The U.K. government is telling the public to work from home again if possible, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to announce new restrictions on bars and restaurants in a bid to halt a surge in coronavirus cases.

“If it is possible for people to work from home, then we’d encourage them to do so,” Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sky News on Tuesday. “There is going to be a shift in emphasis.”

From Thursday, hospitality venues across England will be required to close by 10 p.m. and to limit all transactions to table service only, as ministers clamp down on socializing. Officials will also stop moves to allow crowds to return to live sporting venues.

The measures represent a reversal of efforts to re-open the economy after the first national lockdown shuttered social and commercial activity in March, sparking the deepest U.K. recession in more than 100 years.

Over the summer, Johnson’s government encouraged the public to go back to work, spend in shops and paid for discounts to incentivize people to eat out in pubs and restaurants. But the resurgence of the virus has forced officials to halt these efforts and bring back restrictions.

The question is whether the new curbs being unveiled on Tuesday will be enough to reduce the spread of the disease. Johnson is attempting to balance public health with avoiding another economically damaging full national lockdown — and it’s a debate that has split his cabinet.

On a day of intense activity in London on Tuesday, Johnson will consult with senior officials and the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales at a meeting of the so-called Cobra emergency committee before briefing Parliament on further curbs. He will then make a broadcast to the nation at 8 p.m.

“No one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses,” Johnson’s office said in an email. “We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus.”

Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance warned Monday that the current infection rate, at which the number of cases is doubling every week, could lead to 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October without urgent action.

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