New measures to fight the coronavirus in the UK

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a new list of emergency measures against the coronavirus pandemic for the third time in less than two weeks.

However the gradual approach adopted by the British government, which is juggling policies to protect health on one side and the economy on the other, is still causing confusion. Above all there is confusion about who has essential jobs and who hasn't. And the provision that people should not go to work unless they can not work at home leaves many gaps.Also read: The gig-economy is almost totally exempt from these regulations. In his nationwide broadcast the prime minister actually urged people to use delivery services, rather than to go out to the shops themselves. And although large and very exceptional government financing has been announced to help small businesses with loans and pay subsidies for their employees, nothing has yet been announced to help the self-employed. These are the people, in addition to health service workers and police, who need to go to work because their work can not be done at home.It is also unclear whether the new measures includes construction workers. The minister to the cabinet, Michael Gove, said on the BBC that the measures do not include construction workers. The mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn said they should.Also read: London transport was overcrowded in rush hour on the morning after the prime minister's speech as essential workers and those who can not work from home were travelling to their jobs. Many underground stations in London have been closed to discourage travel, but as the mayor of London has also revealed, 20 per cent of London public transport staff are off work either because they or others in the family are sick. London has so far been the worst hit area of the country by Covid-19.The police who are needed to enforce the new measures against public gatherings (even without the legal powers needed to do so until these are passed by parliament) have already said that they do not have the staff to manage this crisis. A spokesman has pointed out and that they are far worse off than in Italy as there is no equivalent of the Carabiniere to call on. The head of London police federation has also said that there is “a large amount of sickness” among police in London. 

These are the new measures announced last night:

People are not allowed out of their homes unless it is for essential shopping, for food and medical supplies.People are allowed out of their homes once a day for one form of exercise (listed as walking, running or bicycling). They must be alone or only with people from their household.People are also allowed out for medical needs and to help the vulnerable. Key workers can still send their children to school although where these schools are and how they will be staffed is uncertain. Children under 18 in separated families may still be transported between the homes of their parents.

Travel to and from work is only allowed when the work can not be done at home.

If necessary police will be used to disperse gatherings of more than two.

Social events such as weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies have been stopped, but not funerals, yet.

Shops selling non-essential goods must shut. This did not stop SportsDirect, the country's largest sports goods retailer, from saying it would open this morning as usual, until peer pressure forced it to re-think.

This is the list of business that can remain open:

Restaurants, cafes and work canteens, but only to provide take-aways and delivery services.Supermarkets and market stalls.Petrol stations, garage repairs and car rental companies.

Post offices and corner shops.

Banks.

Hardware stores.

Dry cleaners and laundrettes.

Bicycle shops.

Pet shops.

The prime minister also said in his broadcast that these measures will be in force for three weeks (until 13 April, which is also the Monday after Easter and will therefore keep people at home during the Easter holidays) and that there are still other measures that may be taken if these do not work.

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