By Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation Tuesday after announcing a raft of new coronavirus restrictions.
“The struggle against COVID is the single biggest crisis the world has faced in my lifetime,” Johnson said in a televised speech. “And yet, I am more certain than ever that this is a struggle that humanity will win, and we in this country will win – and to achieve what we must, I want to talk to you directly tonight about the choices that we face – none of them easy – and why we must take action now.”
Johnson seemed to pin the blame on the rising number of cases on the nation’s innate freedom-loving spirit, saying: “But we have to acknowledge that this is a great and freedom-loving country, and while the vast majority have complied with the rules, there have been too many breaches – too many opportunities for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected.”
“I know that this approach – robust but proportionate – already carries the support of all the main parties in parliament,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday in parliament, Johnson announced new measures that included employees working from home where possible, traveling to work if home work is not possible; all pubs, bars and restaurants operating table service only and closing at 10 p.m. (2100GMT); face masks being extended to staff in retail, taxis and hospitality; limiting numbers at weddings to 15 and funerals to 30, and the cancelation of the partial reopening of sports stadiums that was scheduled for Oct. 1
The financial penalty for refusing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of no more than six people meeting in public will double to £200 (US$254). Police will also have the option of drawing on military support.
“The tragic reality of having COVID is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell,” he warned.
“I am deeply, spiritually reluctant to make any of these impositions or infringe anyone’s freedom,” Johnson said. “But if people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further. We must take action now because a stitch in time saves nine.”
The prime minister concluded: “We must rely on our willingness to look out for each other, to protect each other. Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behavior.”
Authorities announced Tuesday that 4,926 people across the UK in the past 24 hours had tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total to 403,551. They said 37 deaths brought that total to 41,825.