British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for PMQ at the House of Commons on September 30, 2020 in London, England.
Alberto Pezzali | NurPhoto via Getty Images
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday called on Britons to abide by rules to avoid stricter coronavirus restrictions, as the country grapples with a rapid spike in the number of reported coronavirus cases.
“The best way forward to protect the NHS, save lives, to keep our children in school and the economy moving is to follow the rules wherever we live,” Johnson said.
“I don’t want to go back to a national lockdown where the overall guidelines are staying at home,” Johnson said, responding to a question sent from a member of the public. “That’s not what we’re saying, we want the economy to keep moving, we want young people, students to stay in education. But, the only way we can do that is if we all follow the guidelines and suppress the virus.”
The prime minister, who recently had to apologize after screwing up the government’s own coronavirus rules, spoke alongside Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, during a televised press conference.
It came shortly after the country recorded the highest number of Covid-19 infections reported since the pandemic began.
Britain reported an additional 7,143 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, more than the number of new cases reported in late April and early May when strict national lockdown measures were put in place, although now more Covid-19 tests are carried out daily than in spring.
The UK also recorded a further 71 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday. It is the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 reported in the UK since July 1. It has the worst official death toll in Europe, and the fifth highest number of deaths from the coronavirus worldwide.
On Wednesday, Britain recorded 7,108 new coronavirus cases and an additional 71 related deaths, the same number of deaths reported on Tuesday.
‘Discipline and determination’
Downing Street previously announced that mixing of households in northeast England would be banned from late Wednesday, following a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases in the region.
The government also advised residents in the region to avoid hanging out with people outside their homes in pubs and restaurants.
Johnson, who fell ill when he contracted Covid-19 earlier this year, has called on the public to “call on the discipline and determination” needed to keep up with the latest adoption of coronavirus rules.
In a television broadcast to the country on Sept. 23, the prime minister outlined new restrictions that could be imposed for up to six months, saying “too many violations have occurred.”
In the UK, these include stricter restrictions on face covering, and the number of people allowed to attend weddings has been halved. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality establishments were also told to close at 10 p.m., while fines for breaking the new rules were raised to £ 200 ($ 256) in the first offense.
Hospitality establishments also had to close early in Wales and Scotland, while Northern Ireland has banned households from mingling indoors.
Tens of millions of people in Britain are now subject to local restrictions brought in to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
However, as pressure mounts on Johnson to impose a so-called two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown to contain the virus, leading lawmakers in the ruling Conservative Party have spoken out against potential additional action.
Johnson suggested the government “should have the right to go further” with stricter regulations if the number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths continues to rise.