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UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson to impose further COVID-19 restrictions but anger rising

Mon, 12th Oct 2020 08:13

* Johnson to tighten restrictions on some areas

* Pubs and restaurants in focus across England

* Hospitality industry takes legal action

* Anger rises at economic cost of restrictions
(Changes date, adds details)

By Guy Faulconbridge and Elizabeth Piper

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson will on Monday impose a tiered system of further
restrictions on parts of England as the COVID-19 outbreak
accelerates, though anger is rising at the cost of the stringent
curtailment of freedoms.

Johnson will hold a meeting of the government's emergency
COBRA committee and then address parliament, offering lawmakers
a vote later in the week on the measures. He will then hold a
press conference alongside England's chief medical officer and
his finance minister.

Johnson's three-tiered local lockdowns will include shutting
bars, gyms, casinos and bookmakers in some areas placed into the
"very high" alert level, probably across the north of England,
British media reported.

"The purpose of these measures is to get the virus under
control," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News. "The
point of moving to this tiered system is so that in those most
highly affected areas, we have got measures in place to control
the virus."

Dowden said there was academic research that showed the risk
of spreading the virus was higher in hospitality settings such
as bars and restaurants. He said he hoped the measures would get
the virus under control by Christmas or sooner.

But hospitality businesses say they are being pushed towards
collapse by the government's restrictions.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), a UK trade
body, told Reuters on Sunday that the industry has taken legal
action to prevent lockdown measures from being imposed.

"The industry has been left with no other option but to
legally challenge the so-called 'common sense' approach
narrative from government, on the implementation of further
restrictions across the north of England," NTIA CEO Michael Kill
said in an email.

"These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late
night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient
financial support package," the statement read.

After being criticised for mixed messaging as the numbers of
coronavirus cases and deaths increase, Johnson will again go to
parliament and the country to ask for support for a new approach
to stem the spread.

Britain recorded 12,872 new cases on Sunday and has
officially registered 42,825 deaths.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new
surge that has forced local lockdowns as students returned to
schools and universities.

The mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, said on Sunday the
government wanted to put his city and surrounding area in the
category subject to the toughest restrictions, adding that the
measures that would apply there had not yet been agreed.

"Of course, it is very challenging for people," he said.
"The measures we are taking are having a bad impact on health,
they are having a bad impact on the economy but ultimately it is
better to do that than to allow the virus to get out of
control."

Johnson, under pressure from parts of his Conservative Party
over some COVID-19 measures, is reluctant to repeat a national
lockdown that would further hurt a struggling economy, but has
been urged to act by medical officials.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Elizabeth Piper
Editing by Peter Graff and Giles Elgood)

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