Despite high infection rates, Britain’s Prime Minister has announced that the corona restrictions will be relaxed – but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not participating. Opposition and business complain about unclear guidelines.
The corona crisis in Britain is far from over. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday various loosenings of contact restrictions. Trade unions, business representatives and voices from the opposition sharply criticized the British government’s actions. They demanded more clarity from Johnson in the fight against the pandemic.
Those who could not work from home should go back to work in compliance with the rules of distance, Johnson had said in his speech broadcast on Sunday. Public transportation should be avoided if possible. From Wednesday on, sunbathing in the open air will be allowed again, among other things. Travel within England, for example to the coast, will also be permitted again. Johnson also presented a system of five warning levels to assess the situation in Great Britain.
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News on Monday that hairdressers and restaurants would not be allowed to open until July at the earliest. The British will also have to give up their pint in the pub at least until then.
According to the head of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, Johnson’s speech on Sunday evening leaves “more questions than answers”. The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) parliamentary group, Ian Blackford, spoke of “confusion”. The British Chamber of Commerce stressed that companies needed clear instructions on how they should protect their employees. The National Union of Education condemned the plan to allow individual grades to start in schools from June as “reckless”. According to surveys, most teachers reject the plan.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland announced that they would go their own – stricter – way. Johnson also wanted to present his plans in parliament on Monday afternoon.
Great Britain has the most corona victims in Europe; so far, about 32,000 infected people have died. There is still a lack of protective equipment. Even the goal of 100,000 tests a day is not always achieved.