LONDON – Weakened by a flurry of scandals, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on Tuesday sought to pacify the deputies of its majority against measures aimed at containing the outbreak, Omicron’s version said.
The United Kingdom, one of the countries hardest-hit by the pandemic with more than 146,500 dead in Europe, is facing a “tidal wave”, according to Mr Johnson, of cases linked to the new highly transmissible version of the coronavirus, which he is trying to stem that with a vaccine booster campaign of unprecedented scale.
To prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, Boris Johnson announced new restrictions: wearing masks indoors, daily testing for contact cases, teleworking at major events and mandatory health passes.
But nearly sixty Conservative deputies threaten to oppose some of these measures, debated on Tuesday in parliament, which they see as liberal and harmful to the economy. If the help of the Labor opposition should allow them to be adopted, this rebellion risks undermining a prime minister already on a tight rope.
“I believe these measures are balanced and proportionate”, Health Minister Sajid Javid defended before the deputies, stressing that these restrictions were “much less” stringent than those “established in most countries of Europe”. .
“I can assure the House that we will reconsider these measures and that we will not maintain them for a day longer than necessary,” he promised.
To reassure angry elected officials, Sajid Javid on Wednesday announced the end of very severe restrictions imposed on arrivals from eleven African countries, including South Africa, thus avoiding an expensive quarantine in hotels for British residents returning. Saved.
– “merciless” Tories –
This rebellion could not have been worse for Boris Johnson.
Two years after his historic election victory with a promise to secure Brexit, the prime minister saw his popularity plummet in the polls and faced multiple calls to resign after a series of scandals.
The British blamed him for a series of events held in Downing Street in December 2020, when he was asked to limit his social interactions to the extreme: an online quiz attended by Boris Johnson, surrounded by colleagues, And a party was bringing it together. part of staff.
This series of disclosures related to health regulations undermines his credibility when he expects new ones to be implemented. They also add to the many allegations of corruption and nepotism, which may have encouraged calls for no-confidence motions within the Conservative Party.
According to British politics expert Robin Pettit, the wind of the prime minister – a former journalist and mayor of London known for his unorthodox style – could allow him to steer clear of one or two of these scandals.
But if construction continues, Mr Petit told AFP: “The Conservative Party has always been very cruel when it comes to getting rid of leaders who are not working.”
– Afraid for Christmas –
According to the health minister, the Omicron version will infect 200,000 people every day, even though the number of new cases detected – all types combined – were officially only 59,000 on Tuesday.
This wave is already being felt in the entertainment world, where many popular musicals, such as “The Lion King” or “The Odyssey of Pi”, have been forced to cancel performances due to positive cases in their teams. .
English football also badly affected: The Premier League on Monday reported 42 new cases of Covid-19, a record since test results were published in May 2020.
In Scotland, which sets its own health rules, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned of a large increase in cases, indicating that two people with the Omicron variant had already been hospitalised.
“We’re not asking you to cancel or change your plans for Christmas,” she said, though asking Scots to “limit your social interactions indoors” to a maximum of three different homes.
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