Rejecting some comments that he should simply let the virus “take its course,” Johnson said applying restrictions to “medium,” “high,” and “very high” alert areas would be the best way to limit the public’s exposure to the new round of COVID-19 cases.
He said he believed the methods would be preferable to an overall shutdown of the economy because the alert areas will focus on the most problematic areas while allowing locations with few cases to operate freely.
“We can’t let the virus rip and so we have followed since June a balanced approach with the support of many members across the House to keeping the [count] down while keeping schools and the economy going and controlling the virus by changing our behavior so as to restrict its spread,” Johnson said.
“I take no pleasure whatsoever in imposing restrictions on these businesses, many of which have gone to great lengths to reopen as safely as possible. Nor do I want to stop people enjoying themselves, but we must act to save lives,” Johnson said.
British health officials announced 13,972 new cases of coronavirus on Monday with 50 more deaths in the past 28 days.
Johnson said the medium level alert, which would cover a “significant part” of Britain right now, would invoke the “rule of six” in indoor and outdoor settings, meaning police would be able to disperse gatherings of more than six people and fine individuals involved. It would also place curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants.
A high level warning would also prevent socializing with other households indoors, although support bubbles would still be permitted. Very high level alerts would ban socializing with other households both indoors and in private gardens, while bars and pubs will be closed unless they can operate as restaurants.
Residents would be advised against traveling in and out of those areas, but non-essential shops, schools and universities will remain open. Johnson said he hopes the new plan can go into effect on Wednesday after being voted on in Parliament.
“I believe not to act would be unforgivable, so I hope that rapid progress can be made in the coming days,” Johnson said. “We will also keep these measures under constant review, including a four-week sunset clause for interventions in ‘very high’ areas.”