Trump attacks Boris Johnson’s Covid lockdown: ‘The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself’

Christmas effectively cancelled for millions of Britons

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Saturday 19 December 2020 20:55 GMT
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Tier 4 restrictions announced for London and swathes of southeast England
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Donald Trump has attacked Boris Johnson’s decision to impose strict new regulations to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus, saying the “cure cannot be worse” than the problem.

The British prime minister on Saturday announced new restrictions for parts of southern England, including London, that will result in people being forced to cancel plans they had to gather together over the Christmas holidays.

Separate restrictions have also now been introduced in Wales and Scotland.

Mr Johnson said that areas currently listed at “tier 3”, the highest level of current restrictions, will move to a new and even more stringent “tier 4”. It requires all non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close after the end of business hours on Saturday.

Mr Johnson also said that a planned easing of socialising rules that would have allowed up to three households to meet in “bubbles" from 23 to 27 December, will be cancelled for tier 4 areas.

Tier 4 households banned from mixing for Christmas

Mr Johnson said he was acting to counter a new strain of the coronavirus tearing through London and other parts of southeast England. The new strain appears to be as much as 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot proceed with Christmas as planned,” the prime minister said.

The move, that will be of huge disappointment to millions of Britons, was quickly critised by Mr Trump, who has sought to avoid lockdowns, the need for social distancing or even the need to wear face masks despite the US’ status as the world’s worst-hit nation.

He retweeted a BBC News story about the new regulations and wrote: “We don’t want to have lockdowns. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself!”

In another tweet, the US president attempted to drag Britain’s woes into his ongoing campaign of self-aggrandisement and point-scoring, writing: “The entire WORLD is being badly hurt by the China Virus, but if you listen to the Fake News Lamestream Media, and Big Tech, you would think that we are the only one. No, but we are the Country that developed vaccines, and years ahead of schedule!”

Latest data collated by Johns Hopkins University indicates that at least 67,177 people have died from the coronavirus in Britain, and more than 2 million infected. It has the sixth highest death toll of any county, and is second in Europe only to Italy.

Yet the situation in the United States is more dire. More than 17m people have been infected and at least 314,000 have died.

The president, who, like Mr Johnson, contracted the disease, has been widely condemned for failing to do more to try and prevent the spread, focussing almost entirely on the promise of a vaccine.

The new rules in Britain will mean no mixing of households will be allowed in tier 4 except under very limited conditions outside in public places. Travel in and out of tier 4 areas will not be allowed unless considered essential.

In the rest of England, people will be allowed to meet in Christmas bubbles for just one day instead of five, as the government originally planned.

The British Retail Consortium said it was "hugely regrettable news, ,especially coming just two weeks after a month-long lockdown in England ended and at the height of the year's peak retail period.

“Retailers have invested hundreds of millions of pounds making stores Covid-secure for customers and staff," said Helen Dickinson, the trade body's chief executive. “For businesses, the government's stop-start approach is deeply unhelpful.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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