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Boris Johnson Unveils Three-Tier Lockdowns To Slow Outbreak Despite Local Allies’ Pushback

KEY POINTS

  • Boris Johnson has announced a three-tiered system of lockdowns to combat the resurgent pandemic
  • Under the system, Liverpool would close pubs and ban gatherings. Manchester, another outbreak hotspot, has not agreed to the measures
  • Other countries in Europe and the United States also face a second wave, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and intensive care units

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a new three-tiered lockdown plan as COVID-19 surges once more across Europe and the United States. Under the plan, virus hotspots like Liverpool and Greater Manchester would close pubs and also ban gatherings. Greater Manchester has not yet agreed to the measure, and local leaders in Liverpool and across the U.K. have voiced objections to the implementation of the measures.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said in a statement that the restrictions were “not something regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days”

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer told parliament that he doubted the government’s ability to contain the spread of the virus even with new regulations.

“I’m now deeply skeptical the government has actually got a plan to get control of this virus,” Starmer said. 

The U.K. has over 603,000 cases and nearly 43,000 deaths from COVID, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Johnson himself had previously said he wanted to avoid further lockdowns, but rising infection numbers have forced his hand. Previously unused hospitals built to manage the initial COVID-19 outbreak are being employed to deal with patient overflow. 

In April, Johnson tested positive for COVID and later recovered.

BBC News reported on Oct. 5 that some speculation has lingered over whether he fully recovered. Johnson has stated that he was “as fit as several butchers’ dogs.”

Almost 14,000 new coronavirus cases were reported across the UK on Monday Almost 14,000 new coronavirus cases were reported across the UK on Monday Photo: AFP / Paul ELLIS

Britain isn’t the only country in Europe dealing with the resurgent virus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with cabinet members Monday to discuss new measures against the virus and has a more significant meeting Wednesday with the various state Premiers. 

French intensive care units are being pushed to capacity after youth populations sheltered the virus, reexposing more vulnerable demographics. Their hospitals are understaffed, and it could be months before new personnel can finish training.

The United States is dealing with its own second wave. Daily new cases spent four days over 50,000, fuelled by both populations and governments unwilling to follow prevention guidelines. The disease isn’t distributed evenly across either the U.S. or U.K.: low infection rates in New York City and London have officials moving forward with plans for an air corridor ahead of the holiday tourism season. 

A stateside vaccine is likely months away. The exact trends that threw France back into the thick of the pandemic have also played out across the U.S.

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Trump allies turn Covid diagnosis into a message of strength

His allies have tried to connect the president’s experience to the pain of millions of Americans affected by the deadly virus, but they haven’t used the experience to send a broader public-health message about a pandemic that has killed around 210,000 people in the U.S. They have instead presented, in a series of TV appearances and tweets, a testament to Trump’s resilience by asserting that he has overcome the disease.

He and his surrogates are now portraying the president as having personally vanquished the virus — and they continue to skirt any suggestion of his complicity in its spread while largely ignoring the dire signs of his condition.

Their defense is to push the president’s diagnosis almost as a boost to his qualifications. Piggybacking off the campaign’s criticisms of Joe Biden as a challenger relegated to his basement, Trump’s team has portrayed the president’s Covid case as an insight into the disease that the Democractic nominee could never have.

“He has experience as commander in chief. He has experience as a businessman,” a Trump campaign spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said Monday on Fox News. “He has experience now of fighting the coronavirus as an individual. Those firsthand experiences, Joe Biden, he doesn’t have those.”

In a video to his supporters on Sunday, Trump said that he had “learned a lot about Covid.”

“I learned it by really going to school,” the president said. “This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it’s a very interesting thing, and I’m going to be letting you know about it.”

But the approach hasn’t led the surge in public support that often follows a leader’s health crisis. His critics continue to question why he and his staff had continuously disregarded health officials’ advice on how to stop the spread of the disease. The recent burst in cases in the White House, they point out, was probably tied to a number of in-person events where allies of the president rubbed elbows in tight quarters while not wearing masks.

Even after his diagnosis, the president continued to act in ways that put his staff in danger of contagion. In a brief foray outside the hospital on Sunday, he greeted supporters from an armored, sealed SUV — potentially putting Secret Service agents in direct contact with the virus. It was a move meant to shore up support, but led to a frenzy of condemnation.

Trump’s camp has made it clear that the president’s stint in the hospital — he was discharged on Monday evening — wasn’t changing their approach to the virus. The campaign snubbed the use of plexiglass separators at the upcoming vice presidential debate, and upon arriving at the White House, Trump removed his mask for a photo op even though he’s likely still contagious.

If anything, it has become a talking point to boost the president as capable of meeting any challenge at the cost of minimizing the virus’ risks.

“We’re not going to