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UK PM Johnson: National Covid Lockdown Was Right Thing to Do, Now Targeted Local Action Better

© Toby MelvilleFILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo - Sputnik International
The latest announcement from Downing Street has outlined strategic plans to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including a second wave set to hit in the winter, with sweeping new measures being launched to transfer power to local authorities and boost contact tracing protocols, among others.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that Britain could control the ongoing coronavirus pandemic via targeted local lockdowns.

Addressing the British public, he said that the UK government was publishing a framework for containing future outbreaks.

The PM said that local councils would be given new powers on Saturday to tackle the pandemic, adding that government ministers would be able to close whole sectors of areas in the country and order residents to stay at home in specific areas.

Brace Yourselves, Winter is Coming

According to Mr Johnson, local approaches would rely on effective testing systems as the winter approached, where a stronger second wave is expected.

He said: “Even as we plan for the worst I strongly believe we should also hope for the best. That means looking ahead with optimism.”

According to the PM, the government would launch new testing sites across the UK and that 200 mobile units were on standby for rapid deployment.

The government will also boost testing capacity to at least 500,000 tests a day by late October.

“Anyone, anywhere in the UK with symptoms can get a test without delay,” he said, adding that as winter approached the country would need to "go further, not least because many more people will show COVID-like symptoms as a result of seasonal illnesses, and therefore require a test.

The virus could become "more virulent in the winter months" and the NHS could face the "usual annual winter pressures", he added.

New Rules in the 'New Normal'

In his speech, the Prime Minister issued further measures for relaxing lockdown measures in England, including allowing anyone to use public transport.

The government plans further updates on advice for returning to work from 1 August, he said, adding that employers would be granted more discretion on returning to offices.

“Whatever employers decide, they should consult closely with their employees," Boris Johnson said.

But nightclubs and soft play areas would need to remain closed but Downing Street will begin trialling large gatherings at sports stadiums from October, he said.

Wedding receptions for up to 30 people would be allowed, he added.

The Prime Minister added that the government would allow more "close contact between friends and family where we can" and that a more "significant return to normality" was expected from November.

The revised plan would “lift the remaining national measures which have restricted our lives since March so we can get back to something closer to normal life," he added.

But the new timetable was “conditional and contingent on every one of us staying alert and acting responsibly," he cautioned.

He said: “This plan has been conditional and it remains conditional but if we continue to pull together as we've done so far, I know we can beat this virus – hoping for the best and planning for the worst”.

Cash Pledge for the National Health Services, Monitoring Global Response to Pandemic

PM Johnson also announced a further £3bn in funds for the NHS England to prepare for a second wave.

“We're providing an addition £3bn of funding for the NHS in England to get ready for winter – Scotland, Wales and NI will also receive additional funds. This will allow the NHS to use the extra hospital capacity acquired from the independent sector and also to maintain the Nightingale hospitals until the end of March," Johnson said in his speech.

He said that a combination of local lockdowns as well as test-and-trace measures would help the nation control the spread of coronavirus, adding Britain would continue to monitor other countries to see "all too clearly what could go wrong".

The news comes after Liberal Democrats leader, Sir Ed Davey, urged the Prime Minister to launch an independent inquiry into the government's response to the pandemic, which surpassed 45,000 deaths and nearly 295,000 cases.

Downing Street had been advised by a report from chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance to prepare the additional funds for a "reasonable worst-case scenario", which could potentially result in 120,000 further hospital deaths by next June.

The report involved 37 scientists and academics and was published by the Academy of Medical Sciences, but did not include death rates from community or care homes.

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