British prime minister Boris Johnson has announced certain tweaks to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The government’s message of ‘Stay At Home’ has now apparently shifted to ‘Stay Alert’. Unsurprisingly, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have already rejected this proposal.
This change comes as a bit of surprise because the World Health Organization and even the government’s own health advisors have urged the prime minister to be very careful. There have even been some that have suggested that this new policy change could undermine everything good that has been since the lockdown began.
A divisive measures concerning air travel have been brought. The new rule requires anyone who travels from abroad to be in quarantine for 14 day upon arrival. There have even been talks about serious damage being done to the travel industry.
Johnson has also encouraged everyone who can’t work from home to return to their workplace. There are documents that outline those workers as hotel and restaurant workers, people who work in other people’s households, factory employees, outdoor workers, shop workers, office workers, and those who work in vehicles.
The intriguing part is the guidelines for those returning to their jobs. They are as following: having workers wash their uniforms on-site rather than at home, staggering the arrival and departure times of employees, introducing “one-way flow routes” through buildings, introducing handwashing and hand sanitation areas and entries and exits to buildings and regulating the use of corridors, lifts, and staircases.
On the other hand, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has only brought up one change – allowing the public unlimited outdoor exercise. A similar thing is happening in Wales, where their First Minister Mark Drakeford has added the opening of garden centers whilst respecting the social distancing to the same outdoor exercise rule from Scotland. That same rule will be introduced in Northern Ireland as well, where their First Minister Arlene Foster has also added that there will be recommendation to wear face masks in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult.
Another consequence of so called ‘mixed messages’ the prime minister has sent is the fate of pubs and football.
There are reports suggesting that as much as 40% of pubs will be forced to shut down come September.
“With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
“If Government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown.
“Despite this, the Government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face.
“We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating.”
With news coming from Germany that their national football championship will re-start on May 15th, many in England are hopeful that a similar thing can happen with their Premier League.
The league’s representatives say that they will insist on a spirit of compromise ahead of scheduled video conference meeting with the government. They are in dire straits to come up with a solution before UEFA’s May 25th cutoff.
So far, it appears that the proposition will be that games will be played on neutral grounds, although there are those who vehemently oppose to that. There are even rumors of ‘Project Sabotage’ where supposedly 6 teams have already agreed to boycott the resuming of the league in that manner.
Another potential problem for this solution is the police department’s predictions of potential unruliness of football fans, allegedly Liverpool fans in particular. Their team is on the cusp of winning the league for the first time in thirty years and police believe that they would be very difficult to suppress in their intention to celebrate the victory and breaking the public gathering rules.
The joint statement from several union organizations has been issued on May 8th.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Parents and staff need full confidence that schools will be safe before any pupils return.
“The government must work closely with unions to agree a plan that meets the tests we have set out. Those discussions must include unions representing all school workers, not just teachers.
“The best way to do this is through a national taskforce for safe schools, with government, unions, and education stakeholders. Schools must also get extra funds from [the] government to pay for essential safety measures like PPE and additional cleaning.”
“I know that we can use this plan to get us through the next [phase of the pandemic],” the prime minister said in the closing part of his national address.
“And if we can’t do it by those dates, and if the alert level won’t allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right.”
He added: “We will come back from this devilish illness. We will come back to health, and robust health.
“And though the UK will be changed by this experience, I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before.
“More resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing, but for now we must stay alert, control the virus, and save lives.”
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