Faced with a resurgence of the new coronavirus threatening to overwhelm health services, British authorities decided on Monday to close pubs in Liverpool and reactivate three field hospitals set up in the spring.
With more than 42,800 dead, unparalleled in Europe, and nearly 618,000 positive cases, the United Kingdom is facing a new wave of contamination now affecting its entire territory and all its age groups.
Determined to avoid general containment, the Conservative government has decreed local restrictions now affecting a quarter of the British population, especially in the North, with differences that have become for some illegible.
After leading a crisis meeting, Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented MPs with a new three-tier alert system, “medium”, “high” and “very high” supposed to simplify the current patchwork of restrictions from Wednesday for England. The other nations are competent to apply their own device.
The first level corresponds to the measures valid for the whole of England: gatherings limited to six people and closing at 10 p.m. for pubs and restaurants. At “high”, in areas currently under local restrictions, meetings between different households will be prohibited indoors.
In regions with a “very high” level, additional measures will be applied with the support of local authorities, supported if necessary by the army.
In the Liverpool region (nearly 1.5 million people), in the North West, an agreement has been reached to close pubs, bars, gyms and casinos, while discussions are underway with elected officials other areas of the North of England.
“I know how difficult it is, but we cannot let down the national health service when lives are at stake,” pleaded the conservative prime minister, faced with the discontent of part of his camp opposed to measures too restrictive, difficult economically.
“This is not how we want to live, but it is the narrow path that we must draw between the socio-economic damage of a complete containment and the economic cost of an epidemic out of control”, a- he justified.
Hospitalizations on the rise
Health authorities have warned of the worrying situation in hospitals. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in England is now higher than it was when confinement was declared at the end of March. In the most affected regions, in the North-West, the hospital services that are not directly responsible for the epidemic are starting to see their functioning affected.
To help the health system cope, three of the large field hospitals set up in disaster in the spring, and since put on hiatus, were instructed “to mobilize over the next few weeks to be ready to receive patients. if necessary “, announced the medical director of the health service for England Stephen Powis.
These establishments are located in the North, but others may follow.
“There is still no treatment, still no vaccine for Covid-19. Unfortunately, this means that, as infections increase, the death toll will increase,” warned Mr Powis.
The new restrictions have been greeted with hostility by local elected officials in the north of England, who consider the employment support measures put in place by the executive insufficient and fear that their financial balance will be jeopardized.
Worried about a “catastrophic” effect on the nightlife of measures “unjust and without scientific logic”, the federation of bars and nightclubs NTIA has announced that it wants to challenge them in court.
On Friday, the government announced new employment assistance measures targeting businesses that are forced to remain closed because of restrictions on activity to fight the pandemic.
These companies will receive up to 3,000 pounds (nearly 3,310 euros) per month and their employees will be compensated up to two-thirds of their usual salary.