Packaged London Underground trains are the latest symbol of the UK’s confused coronavirus response

Commuters on a rush hour train in London on Wednesday.
Photos circulated on the social media of commuters crowding on congested railway platforms, some without masks, or piling up in crowded double-decker buses, raising questions about how Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to bring the country back to work without causing a second wave of coronavirus infections.
In a address pre-registered to the nation on Sunday eveningJohnson announced that anyone who could not do their job from home “should be actively encouraged to go to work,” adding that workers “should avoid public transport” because there would be limited capacity on trains. Johnson also suggested that people should get to work by car, bicycle or on foot if possible.

Johnson’s speech, which seemed to imply that people would be allowed to return to work the following day, was criticized by the opposition leader, who said “it was a nice thing to jump on people for tomorrow morning” and the head of a union that described the messages as “confused and unbelievers”.

The government was forced on Monday morning to clarify that people should return to work only on Wednesday, while other UK nations told people that they should continue to stay home.

In London, as in any large urban area, many people work in the service sector and many will not have their own mode of transport, so the scenes of the underground carriages were quite inevitable, given Johnson’s guidance. And while on Tuesday the government has advised people to wear masks indoors, they are not mandatory.

At the Prime Minister’s weekly session of questions on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson expressed concern about the number of commuters using London’s public transport network and said the government urged people to avoid traveling during peak times.

While some commuters wore masks, others did not.

“We are working very actively with TfL [Transport for London] To ensure that what we do is more capacity, we discourage people from going to work during the peak and that operators – especially the TfL – stay on multiple subway trains when they are needed during the day, “Johnson told lawmakers. in parliament.

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You are likely to find strong opposition to this suggestion. Mick Cash, secretary general of the powerful union of railway, maritime and transport workers, said that transport workers would be on strike if better protections were not put in place.

“If our members aren’t safe, we’re telling them, put yourself in a safe place and refuse to work,” Cash he told Sky News. “We are talking about keeping passengers and staff safe … crowded trains, crowded platforms, crowded buses are actually not safe for anyone and we could risk more people catching the Covid-19 virus and making it worse.”
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The protests for England’s first true closure day are other bad news for Johnson after returning to work following a deadly attack on the coronavirus.

The criticisms of its management of the epidemic come not only from politicians on the other side of the nave, but also from previously favorable legislators and commentators. And he has a new opposition leader in Labor’s Keir Starmer, who appears to be a former director of public prosecutions, now building a political case against Johnson and his government.

The roadmap to get out of the block was a real opportunity for Johnson and his team to get his coronavirus response back on track. If the government cannot straighten its messages, it could face the humiliating prospect of having to reverse its loosening of restrictions. And this could be dangerous – both for its political reputation and, above all, for millions of Britons – as the public gets increasingly tired of this crisis.

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