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Britain is struggling to build support for new blockades as Covid-19 cases rise sharply

LONDON – Back in March, the mood in the UK was terribly simple.

After watching how hospitals and morgues were buried in northern Italy, almost all supported the drastic blockade across the country imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Now – after the summer in which Johnson’s government was accused of incompetence, negligence and hypocrisy – efforts to control a second leap are mired in chaos.

What experts call “pandemic fatigue” is beginning to appear across the continent. But few places show higher levels than Britain, where Johnson̵

7;s critics accuse him of burning much of the goodwill he enjoyed in the spring – thanks to months of blunders and double standards.

Cases are rising again in Britain, as in France and Spain. Fearing a gloomy winter, these governments have imposed some restrictions in an attempt to set a different course.

Johnson is expected to announce a differentiated system of blocking measures later Monday to deal with localized peaks in infections, with some areas returning to the limits seen in March.

Cases were growing so fast that three emergency hospitals in the northern English cities of Manchester and Sunderland and Harrogate were told to prepare for a new wave of admissions, Professor Stephen Powys, head of the publicly funded National Health Service for England, told a news conference on Monday. .

Police riot confronts protesters participated in the rally “We do not agree” in Trafalgar Square against restrictions on coronavirus in London in September.Frank Augstein / AP file

Liverpool municipal leaders in the north-west of England said in a statement on Sunday night that the metropolitan area had been chosen to enter level 3, containing the strictest measures such as closing pubs and bars – but no official announcement has yet been made. they just have to wait for some security. Liverpool has almost 600 cases per 100,000 people and reports nearly 3,000 positive cases per week, up from 89 in the week in September.

Andy Burnham, mayor of nearby Greater Manchester, a region of 2.8 million people, paraphrased William Shakespeare last week, warning that “this could be a winter of dangerous discontent.”

Most deaths in Europe

The UK has the highest coronavirus deaths in Europe, with at least 42,000, and one of the highest death rates per capita in the world. Public confidence in his work with Covid-19 has dropped from 72 to 31 percent – the lowest of all countries, followed by the surveyed company YouGov.

Anyone exposed to a confirmed Covid-19 carrier in the UK must be isolated for 14 days. But a study by King’s College London found that only 10.9% of these people did so and only 18.2% isolated themselves after developing the symptoms themselves.

The study says this is because people are afraid of losing income or have to take care of a family member.

This is not the case for people who want to “go down to the pub and have a good time,” according to Tim Colburn, an associate professor of global health epidemiology and evaluation at University College London. “It’s because of economic necessity, family necessity, and there’s no support to help them.”

British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak initially launched a scheme to pay 80 per cent of workers’ salaries – unprecedented for the Conservative government. But this scheme is reversed. Critics say he needs to do more as additional job losses emerge.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a coronavirus briefing in September.Jack Hill / AP file

At the same time, people here may look more lenient than in March, when the rules were issued with brutal clarity: “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives” – a reference to the beloved National Health Service.

Nowadays in London it is not uncommon to see friends and family members from individual households embracing each other in greeting; cautious followers of the rules can be heard saying that they feel like apostates rather than the norm among social groups; and some workers and customers still ignore the rules imposing masks while indoors or on public transport.

“Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty that led to caution, and caution meant that people were more likely to comply,” said Rowland Cao, a professor of veterinary epidemiology and data science at the University of Edinburgh. “But as you move forward and people start to think that the risks may not be as great as they thought, all these phantoms disappear.”

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The lock was granted in the summer as the government tried to reopen parts of the economy. Johnson and his allies called on the British to return to offices and pubs – even offering people cheap subsidized restaurant meals in a popular scheme called “Eat Out to Help”.

Weeks later, when these cool noises of encouragement appeared, which probably led to growing infections, there was a sharp change in tone and policy.

Currently, the government limits gatherings to no more than six people, pubs must close at 10 pm, and masks are mandatory in public indoor spaces. Stricter measures have been applied in parts of the English north-west, north-east, middle lands and south Wales.

Carrots from the early pandemic have been replaced by stick fines, starting at £ 1,000 (about $ 1,300) and rising to £ 10,000 for repeated landings.

As public confidence in the government continues to decline, conspiracy theorists are heading to the British capital, just as they did in Berlin last month, calling the pandemic a “fraud” and demanding an end to the restrictions.

Madrid has reappeared as one of the world’s hotspots Covid-19. But local authorities opposed the blocking measures imposed by the national government, calling them discriminatory. In Paris, the new rules say that everyone must wear a mask, even outdoors, and all bars are closed for two weeks.

In Britain, many also ask why people should abide by the rules that government figures accuse of violating.

Shopping for food next to a sign of social distancing in a British supermarket in April.Paul Child / Reuters file

Johnson refused to fire his best adviser, Dominic Cummings, despite violating blocking rules by driving across the country. And Johnson’s own father, Stanley Johnson, was photographed twice, ignoring the rules for wearing masks.

Boris Johnson was also forced to apologize quickly after erring in his own legislation, assuming that the “rule of six”, which limits the size of public gatherings, does not apply openly.

The latest flu came last week, when it turned out that 16,000 cases were not reported in England due to a spreadsheet error – meaning that thousands of people were potentially exposed to the virus but were not warned to isolate themselves.

Experts are confused by the ongoing problems plaguing the country’s testing, tracking and isolation system, the cornerstone of any attempt to return to something close to normal.

“The problem is really coming from above,” Colburn said. “Mixed messages from the government, the lack of a clear strategy and goals and things that change all the time.”

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