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UK PM Johnson imposes further Covid-19 curbs on parts of England

London

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday imposed a tiered system of further restrictions on parts of England including closing some pubs as the Covid-19 outbreak accelerates, though anger is rising at the cost of the curtailment of freedoms.

Mr Johnson's three-tier system, announced in Parliament, is an attempt to standardise a patchwork of often complicated and confusing restrictions imposed across England. Lawmakers will vote on the move.

The lockdowns will include shutting pubs and bars in areas placed into the "very high" alert level. So far, Merseyside is the only area yet in that category and there gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close, he said.

"We must act to save lives," Mr Johnson told Parliament, adding that he did not want another national lockdown.

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"If we let the virus rip, then the bleak mathematics dictate that we would suffer not only an intolerable death toll from Covid, but we would put such a huge strain on our NHS with an uncontrolled second spike that our doctors and nurses would simply be unable to devote themselves to other treatments."

"I take no pleasure whatsoever in placing restrictions on these businesses," Mr Johnson said. "Nor do I want to stop people enjoying themselves. But we must act to save lives."

Mr Johnson said he is determined to avoid a second national lockdown, which would hit the economy and threaten the country's ability to fund medical care and other public services.

But he said the rising infection rates mean action must be taken immediately.

Health officials say the freshest data showed infections were rising across the north of England and in some more southerly areas too while the virus was creeping up age bands towards the elderly from those aged 16-29 years.

Manchester intensive care consultant Jane Eddleston said 30 per cent of critical care beds were taken up with Covid-19 patients and is starting to impact on healthcare for others.

Mr Johnson said on Monday that there were some hopeful signs that a vaccine would be secured for Covid-19 but he warned that the country must be realistic because it could not be taken for granted.

"There are some very hopeful signs not least from the Oxford AstraZeneca trials that are being conducted but as (the lawmaker asking the question) knows, SARS took place 18 years ago, we still don't have a vaccine for SARS," he told Parliament. REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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