UK: Johnson shies away from stricter rules

Status: 16.12.2021 6:12 p.m.

The Omikron variant is spreading rapidly in Great Britain. But the government is finding it difficult to take measures that are too strict. Because this makes Premier Johnson unpopular in his own ranks.

By Christoph Prössl, ARD-Studio London

Anyone who expects a coherent corona policy in the United Kingdom is currently not allowed to watch football. Another Premier League game had to be canceled on Wednesday – the match between Burnley FC and Watford FC. There had been a major corona outbreak at Watford, and the club did not have enough players available.

Christoph Prössl
ARD-Studio London

A Premier League game had to be canceled on Tuesday. The game of Arsenal FC against West Ham United, however, took place with almost 60,000 spectators in the stadium. The pictures show how the fans stand close together.

After all, there are new government guidelines: spectators were randomly checked to see whether they had been vaccinated, had taken a test or had been exempted from the guidelines.

Highest number of Omicron cases

Such major events do not fit the concerns expressed by experts in the UK. On Wednesday, the authorities recorded more than 78,000 infections with Omikron – more than ever before.

Chris Whitty, chief advisor to the government, warned that many records would be broken in the coming days.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reluctant to announce further and more stringent measures. He mainly relies on booster vaccinations and calls for the third injection. So a protective wall can be built.

“Plan B” brings some tightening

Almost 25 million people in the UK have already been boosted. The spread of the pandemic should be prevented by “Plan B”. That means: mask compulsory in shops, local public transport and in many other public places. But also means: proof of vaccination or test proof at major events and in night clubs. Christmas parties can still take place. The government just appeals to people to think twice about which celebration really needs to be.

Premier Johnson had encountered massive headwinds this week as he tried to push the plans through in the House of Commons. Numerous MPs from his party voted against it. The government only got approval with the help of the opposition. And Johnson accuses Johnson of missing the leadership in the pandemic, which is now so urgently needed.

So it remains with appeals to reason – as also by government advisor Whitty:

People need to prioritize what is really important. Many do that too. I don’t need a medical degree to know how important it is in the face of this highly contagious virus.

Restaurateurs are recording losses

And really: Many restaurants and pubs get numerous rejections and fear for their existence. Patrick Dardis, managing director of Young’s pub chain, said in an interview with the BBC: “This fear campaign is destroying so many companies that could possibly survive.” Dardis fears that thousands are likely to file for bankruptcy in January.

Omicron wave captured UK

Christoph Prössl, ARD London, December 16, 2021 5:23 p.m.

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