cloudy.png
Sunday November 29th, 2020 12:15PM

UK unveils 3-level lockdown plan; Liverpool at highest risk

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — The British government carved England into three tiers of coronavirus risk on Monday in a bid to slow a resurgent outbreak, putting the northern city of Liverpool into the highest-risk category and shutting its pubs, gyms and betting shops.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the three-level national system was designed to “simplify and standardize” a confusing patchwork of local rules, as the country enters a “crucial phase.” Johnson said hospitals are now filling up with more COVID-19 patients than in March, when he ordered a national lockdown.

“These figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet, and we must act now,” he said during a televised news conference.

Johnson told lawmakers that the goal of the new system was to save lives without “shuttering our lives and our society” through a new national lockdown. While the measures curb social interactions and the leisure industry, Johnson said shops, schools and universities will remain open in all areas.

Some scientists questioned whether the restrictions went far enough. Minutes published Monday from meetings of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies showed the body recommended three weeks ago that the government consider stricter measures including a short “circuit-breaker” lockdown.

The government rejected the idea.

“I and other people who were advocating for quite stringent severe local interventions where necessary three to four weeks ago, our fear is that we’re in another place now,” said Calum Semple, professor of outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the the advisory committee.

After falling during the summer, coronavirus cases are rising in the U.K. as winter approaches, with northwest and northeast England seeing the steepest increases. Liverpool has one of the country’s most severe outbreaks, with about 600 cases per 100,000 people, even more than the hard-hit European cities of Madrid and Brussels.

Under the new measures, areas in England are classified at medium, high or very high risk, and placed under restrictions of varying severity.

Areas in the lowest tier will follow existing national restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on more than six people gathering. In areas at high risk, members of different households are barred from meeting indoors.

The “very high” risk tier will face restrictions including closing pubs — apart from those that serve meals — and, if local authorities want, other venues such as gyms and casinos.

Liverpool was the only area put into the top category Monday, but Johnson said authorities were still talking with other local leaders across the north of England.

Pubs, gyms, leisure centers, betting shops and casinos in Liverpool will close beginning Wednesday.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said local authorities supported tougher restrictions as long as they were accompanied by improved test-and-trace measures to suppress clusters of infections — something he said the government had agreed to.

“As well as protecting lives and doing things to tackle the virus, we also need to protect livelihoods, so we argued really strongly for a stronger financial package," said Anderson, a member of the opposition Labour Party. "Unfortunately, that wasn’t listened to."

The government has announced a support package to pay two-thirds of the salaries of employees of companies that are told to close, but many in the pub and restaurant sector say that is not enough to save already struggling businesses.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he doubted the new measures would go far enough to “get control of this virus, to protect jobs or retain public trust.”

The U.K. has experienced Europe’s deadliest outbreak, with an official death toll of 42,875. Health officials say Britain is at a tipping point in the outbreak, with strong action needed to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed at a time when they are already at their busiest with flu and other winter illnesses.

Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, said three temporary COVID-19 hospitals in northern England that were mothballed when the outbreak receded over the summer are being readied to admit patients once again in the coming weeks.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said Monday that while northern England has the highest infection rates, cases are on the rise across the country. Infections have risen most rapidly among older teenagers and young adults, who generally suffer mild symptoms, but are spreading to older and more at-risk groups.

“This is a nationwide phenomenon now," Van-Tam said.

Bar and restaurant owners pushed back against the new restrictions, saying the government has not shared any evidence backing up the claim that they are the major transmission sources of the virus.

Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese said data from the city’s public health officials “seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of COVID.”

But Semple, the government scientific adviser, said “most of the outbreaks are happening within and between households, and then after that, it’s in the retail and hospitality sector.”

The measures announced Monday apply to England. The rest of the U.K. is under similar, and sometimes tougher, restrictions. In Scotland’s two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, pubs have been closed for 16 days to suppress the outbreak.

___

Danica Kirka contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/hub/virus-outbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
UK unveils 3-level lockdown plan; Liverpool at highest risk
The British government has carved England into three tiers of risk in a bid to slow the spread of a resurgent coronavirus
12:24PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Technical problems arise as early voting starts in Georgia
People eager to cast ballots are lining up on Georgia's first day of early in-person voting
12:19PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Armenia, Azerbaijan report attacks despite cease-fire deal
Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of attacks over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh despite a cease-fire deal brokered by Russia to try to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in decades
12:11PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
2 Stanford economists win Nobel prize for improving auctions
Two American economists won the Nobel Prize for improving how auctions work
11:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
Kyrgyz president declares new state of emergency
Kyrgyzstan’s president has ordered a new, week-long state of emergency in the country’s capital after parliament failed to approve his previous order within the legally required three days
10:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
Tanzania intensifies repression ahead of polls, says report
International human rights group Amnesty International says Tanzania's government has intensified repression of opposition parties and the news media ahead of elections set for Oct. 28
10:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Bar Association says Barrett is 'Well Qualified'
The American Bar Association says Judge Amy Coney Barrett is well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court
11:12AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Senator calls Barrett pick 'judicial torpedo'
Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is “a judicial torpedo” aimed at protections provided by the Affordable Care Act
10:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Biden wants Barrett hearing focus on health care
Presidential candidate Joe Biden says Senate Democrats should make health care the focus of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, not the conservative judge’s Catholic faith
10:38AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Technical problems arise as early voting starts in Georgia
People eager to cast ballots are lining up on Georgia's first day of early in-person voting
12:19PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Armenia, Azerbaijan report attacks despite cease-fire deal
Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of attacks over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh despite a cease-fire deal brokered by Russia to try to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in decades
12:11PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Driverless boat in Florida spins of control, smashing docks
Three people conducting a photo shoot on a boat in a busy Florida river somehow fell overboard, leaving the 24-foot vessel unmanned and out of control
11:56AM ( 32 minutes ago )
The Latest: Senator wants Barrett recusal in election cases
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal says Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett must recuse herself from any cases involving President Donald Trump and the outcome of the Nov. 3 election
11:54AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Belarus ramps up crackdown on protests, detains over 700
Police in Belarus detained 713 people during Sunday's mass protests against reelection of the country’s authoritarian leader, the harshest crackdown on protesters in weeks
11:48AM ( 39 minutes ago )