Mixed feelings as UK heads into lockdown

Top News | Agencies and Michael Shum 2 Nov 2020

Britain is imposing a new monthlong lockdown for England after warnings that without tough action a resurgent coronavirus outbreak will overwhelm hospitals in weeks.

On the day Britain passed one million confirmed Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a sudden about-face and confirmed that stringent restrictions on business and daily life will begin on Thursday and last until December 2.

"No responsible prime minister'' could ignore the grim figures, Johnson said. "Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day."

Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants can only offer take-out, non-essential shops must close and people will only be able to leave home for a short list of reasons including exercise. Activities - from haircuts to foreign holidays - must once again be put on hold.

Unlike during Britain's three-month lockdown earlier this year, schools, universities, construction sites and manufacturing businesses will stay open.

Karen Ho, 36, a Hongkonger who works in the professional services sector in London, told The Standard she is persuading her parents to go back to Hong Kong before the lockdown takes effect.

"Of course [the lockdown] is hugely impacting our day to day, everything is shut apart from essential shops, which are basically supermarkets," Ho said. "No socializing, you can only meet one person outside your household at any time - and outdoors only. Bear in mind it is winter here."

She added: "I am persuading my parents to temporarily move to Hong Kong during winter, as I think the restricted freedom of speech still offers more freedom compared to the lockdown."

Tonny Chan, another Hongkonger living in London, said he is not particularly worried as "it isn't strictly" a lockdown. He added: "When I last went to the supermarket in my local district in northern London on Friday, it was normal, no queue and no food shortage as experienced in the first lockdown.

"Food and grocery hoardings were rare. Don't know if it is going to happen again but I don't think so because the public have experienced [a lockdown] before and they are not panicky here in my area."

Chan said for people working from home like himself, "the so-called lockdown means little change to the daily routines," except that he is no longer able to dine-out during this period.

"Work in the morning, prepare lunch, go out for exercise in the park, shop for groceries if needed and then it begins to get dark. As you know, schools remain open to students. The only major difference is that we can't dine out," he said.

Official figures announced on Saturday recorded 21,915 new cases, bringing the UK's total to 1,011,660. Britain's death toll is 46,555, the highest in Europe, with 326 new deaths announced on Saturday.

The United States, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina and Colombia have also recorded more than one million cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Any new lockdown will need Parliament's approval and a vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The new restrictions would apply to England.

Other parts of Britain set their own public health measures, with Wales and Northern Ireland already effectively in lockdown and Scotland under a set of tough regional restrictions.


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