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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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Will gyms close again? How Boris Johnson’s announcement affects fitness centres in the UK

Gyms were reopened on 25 July to the delight of fitness fans across England, but a surge in new coronavirus cases means this could change.

In response to the spike in infection rates, Boris Johnson has introduced a series of new restrictions in highly affected areas.

This afternoon, the Prime Minster addressed the House of Commons on new measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus.

In high risk or tier three areas, gyms are likely to close, but more detail specific to particular regions is expected to follow later.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Will gyms close again?

A member of staff measures the temperature of a visitor before entering the gym at Nuffield Health Sunbury Fitness and Wellbeing Gym (Photo: AFP)

In “very high” or tier three regions, gyms may well close.

New measures announced for Liverpool, which will take effect from Wednesday, will see further restrictions on the “hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care [such as hair salons and barbers] sector”, said Mr Johnson.

The Prime Minister said discussions with local leaders in high infection areas, such as the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, were “ongoing”, but urged them to “work with us on these difficult but necessary measures”.

What rules are in place in gyms?

A fitness instructor cleans down gym machines at the North Tyneside Council Waves Gym and Swimming Centre in Whitley Bay North Tyneside (Photo: PA)

Gyms are required to comply with strict social distancing guidelines.

Restrictions include a limit on the number of people using the facility at any one time, reduced class sizes, timed booking systems, enhanced cleaning procedures, the spacing out of equipment and ensuring adequate ventilation.

Users are also asked to change and shower at home, rather than in the gym.

Some gyms are also measuring the temperature of visitors before entry.

In Scotland, indoor group exercise activities are currently prohibited, although gyms remain open for individual exercise.

Do I need to wear a face mask in the gym?

A man wearing a face mask exercises at a fitness centre in Mexico City (Photo: Reuters)

Current Government guidance states that face masks are not mandatory in gyms, although individual establishments may enforce their own rules.

The World Health Organisation does not recommend that people wear face masks while exercising as this may affect a person’s ability to breathe comfortable.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms,” it states.

“The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one metre from others.”

What is the industry saying?

UK Active, a not-for-profit collective of members across the UK physical activity and fitness sector, has called on the Government to categorise gyms as essential services.

Huw Edwards, UK Active’s chief executive, said: “We are calling for

Boris Johnson Announces Three-tier Coronavirus Strategy for England

Tighter restrictions have been confirmed by the Government as the Prime Minister confirmed a ‘three-tier’ system for England to classify the severity of rates of COVID-19.

From Wednesday, regions will be classed as either ‘medium’, ‘high’, or ‘very high’ risk.

The details, announced in the Commons by Boris Johnson, came as the NHS said that Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland, and Harrogate were being asked to mobilise in the next few weeks in response to growing rates of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the North West and North East.

Speaking at a Downing Street news briefing earlier, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, warned that additional hospital admissions and deaths were now ‘baked in’ as the virus spread from younger to older age groups.

What the Three Tiers Mean

Speaking ahead of his evening televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson said he did not believe another national lockdown was appropriate but that he was not prepared to “let the virus rip”.

The three-tier system would mean:

  • Medium: Covering most of England, national restrictions such as the ‘rule of six’ and the 10pm curfew for pubs, bars, and restaurants would apply

  • High: People in areas including Greater Manchester and Birmingham would be prevented from socialising with other households indoors

  • Very High: People would be banned from socialising with other households both indoors and in private gardens, while bars and pubs would be closed unless they were able to operate as restaurants

The Prime Minister said that agreement had been reached with leaders in Merseyside for the Liverpool city region to move into the ‘very high’ alert level. There, gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos would also be told to close.

Mr Johnson said that discussions were ongoing with other leaders in the North West, North East, and Yorkshire and Humber over lockdown restrictions.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “They, like us, like everyone in this House, are grappling with very real dilemmas, but we cannot let the NHS fall over.”

He warned MPs that “the weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country”.

A debate and a vote on the new restrictions will take place at Westminster. The Government has promised to keep the measures under continual review.

In reply, Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was clear that the country faced a “critical moment” in efforts to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

However, he added: “I’m now deeply sceptical that the Government has actually got a plan to get control of this virus, to protect jobs, or regain public trust.”

Cases of Coronavirus ‘Heating Up’

Illustrating the latest situation this morning with a series of maps and graphs, Prof Van-Tam said latest data showed COVID-19 cases were “heating up” south of the West Midlands and East Midlands.

“It has changed in a matter of just a few days, and that is clearly of concern to me,” he said.

Prof Van-Tam said that while the resurgence of cases in Northern England

Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test puts him in the company of Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: HERTFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with US President Donald Trump onstage during the annual NATO heads of government summit on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)


© Steve Parsons/Pool via Getty
HERTFORD, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 04: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with US President Donald Trump onstage during the annual NATO heads of government summit on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump is not the only leader on the world stage to have contracted coronavirus.

His positive test, announced in the early hours of Friday, puts him in the company of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

Of those, Johnson fell the most gravely ill after he tested positive for the virus at the end of March. He spent a week in hospital, with three nights in intensive care and, on being discharged admitted “things could have gone either way” for him. Even after leaving the hospital, he had to spend time recuperating at his official country residence, Chequers.

Johnson’s illness, at the height of Britain’s first wave of infections, complicated the government’s response, not least because the virus spread through the government’s ranks in Westminster.

Trump and his wife Melania, who has also tested positive for the virus, may be asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, as was the case with Britain’s health minister Matt Hancock.

At 74 years old and overweight, Trump — who has spent months playing down the severity of the pandemic as US deaths have surpassed 207,000 — falls into the highest risk category for serious complications from the disease. But the first lady, age 50, is likely to be at a lower risk of serious illness.

Johnson tweeted his best wishes to Trump and the first lady, saying he hoped “they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus.”

The US President and first lady can expect to receive the best care the country can offer. But some fear that the full picture is not being given.

Even when the British Prime Minister was in hospital, daily briefings from Downing Street breezily proclaimed he was in “good spirits” when in fact — by Johnson’s own account later — the situation was significantly more serious.

Disregard for masks, distancing

In Brazil, populist leader Bolsonaro, like Trump, spent months downplaying the threat from coronavirus, like Trump, dismissing it as just a “little flu” and assuring his compatriots they had little

This is what happened when Boris Johnson got Covid-19

LONDON — As news of President Donald Trump’s shock diagnosis with Covid-19 spread Friday, the experience of United Kingdom Prime Minster Boris Johnson, who tested positive six months ago, could offer a clue to what might come next.

Johnson, 55, announced on March 27, at the height of the the pandemic in the U.K., that he was suffering “mild” symptoms and would self-isolate while continuing to work. He was thought to be the first world leader confirmed to have contracted Covid-19.

He kept in contact with ministers through what he called the “wizardry of modern technology,” and 10 Downing Street, his official residence and personal office, maintained that he was in control.

Image: Boris Johnson (Jessica Taylor / AFP - Getty Images)
Image: Boris Johnson (Jessica Taylor / AFP – Getty Images)

Then, on April 6 Johnson was rushed to a London hospital on the advice of his doctor before being placed in an intensive care unit. He spent a week in the hospital and received oxygen treatment but was not put on a ventilator. Queen Elizabeth II was kept informed of his status, Buckingham Palace said.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, who deputized in Johnson’s absence, told a press conference the next day that Johnson was still in control of the government — but he admitted he hadn’t spoken to him since before his hospitalization.

On his release, and as he began a period of recuperation at his house in the English countryside, Johnson won praise for a heartfelt message in which he thanked the National Health Service for “saving my life.” Referring to how serious his condition was, Johnson said “it could have gone either way.”

Image: Jair Bolsonaro (Andre Borges / Bloomberg via Getty Images file)
Image: Jair Bolsonaro (Andre Borges / Bloomberg via Getty Images file)

It wasn’t until Monday April 27 that Johnson finally returned to work. Johnson has dismissed ongoing press speculation that the illness has given him long-term symptoms, saying Tuesday he was “fit as a butcher’s dog.”

The episode was a sober wake-up call to Britons, many of whom were skeptical about the severity and threat of the virus.

And it brought into sharp relief the criticism that the U.K. was far too slow to react to the pandemic. Johnson was personally attacked for a cavalier attitude to the virus: He boasted at a press conference on March 3 that he had been shaking hands with people at a hospital overloaded with coronavirus patients.

It later transpired that the government’s own scientific advisors had by that point privately called for a public warning against hand shaking. The prime minister’s spokesperson said he did not see this advice.

Trump joins a growing list of current and former world leaders to contract the virus.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — who had for months downplayed the severity of the pandemic — announced his illness in July. Like Trump, he promoted the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to fight Covid-19. Brazil has the third-highest number of coronavirus infections, approaching 5 million.

Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras, announced in June that he and