Johnson faces business backlash over new Covid rules

On Monday, Boris Johnson was accused by business leaders of presiding over a “lockdown by stealth”, as the prime minister prepares for a massive revolt by many Tory MPs over new restrictions. of Covid-19.

Johnson is under pressure to consider a new government aid package for sectors including hospitality, retail and tourism, as Britain retreats behind closed doors with the Omicron coronavirus strain spreading across the land country.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said the variant now represents more than 20% of cases in the UK and he expected it to become the predominant strain in London on Wednesday.

He said the Health Security Administration estimates that the current number of daily infections from Omicron is “about 200,000”, confirming the exponential growth of the new strain of Covid.

On Monday, people were asked to start working from home if possible, and city centers were much quieter than usual. Traffic at City of London Underground stations has dropped by 30%.

Tony Danker, head of employers’ union CBI, says the impact is being felt by business. “The hardest hit sectors must be closely monitored as further targeted support may be needed,” he said.

Johnson spoke of the “tide wave” of infections and the “emergency,” and Danker said he feared some in the government were using language that had unintended consequences for the economy.

“We are concerned that rhetoric from some in the government risks inciting lockdown sentiment when in reality the proposed measures are flawed,” he said.

Tim Martin, boss of JD Wetherspoon, alert that “the country appears to be headed for a stealth shutdown,” in a stock market update on the impact on his pubs’ bottom line.

The Treasury said it has provided enough business support, including a withdrawal loan program, VAT exemption, protection and grant program, but it is keeping the situation under review.

“Our £400 billion Covid-19 support package will continue to help businesses next spring,” a Treasury spokesman said. “We will continue to respond proportionally to the changing path of the virus, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Tory’s unrest over Covid restrictions is rife, with several MPs claiming that at least 10 letters of no-confidence against the prime minister have been submitted to Graham Brady, chair of the commission. backbench backbench 1922. A total of 54 – 15% of Conservative MPs – is needed to trigger a leadership contest.

Scores of Conservative MPs expected to vote against Johnson’s Covid “Plan B”, including instructions on how to work from home, wear masks more often and – controversially – get Covid certification to gain entry to certain locations.

Javid confirms that people will need a lateral flow test or proof of double vaccination to enter nightclubs or major events, but says the rules will change soon: a Covid card will soon require a people who need booster shots.

In another move that could partially assuage Tory’s concerns about Covid’s allegedly excessive restrictions, ministers are expected to eliminate most – or all – of 11 European countries. Africa is on the UK’s “red list” for travel.

Javid has argued that it is no longer a case of maintaining tough restrictions – including isolation in a state-approved hotel – now that community transmission is common in the UK.

But Johnson is bracing for the biggest Tory rebellion of his term as prime minister on Tuesday, with many MPs expected to protest over the so-called “Covid Passport” regime.

More than 70 Tory MPs have spoken out against the rules, while as many as 10 junior government members – parliament’s private secretaries – are “watching resignation”.

A former minister said some Tory MPs are turning to dissent because they think “Boris won’t be here much longer”. Others are angry because the prime minister’s faltering leadership.

Other MPs said they wanted to record a protest to ensure that Johnson did not introduce mandatory vaccinations – a policy the prime minister flirted with last week, before it was rejected by Javid.

Meanwhile, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a television address that his party would support the government’s Plan B measures. He said his party was “patriotic” and would always “put the national interest first”.

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