UK PM voices optimism amid latest COVID-19 restrictions

By Karim El-Bar, Hasan Esen and Bilal Acar

LONDON (AA) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is “light at the end of the tunnel” at a press briefing Thursday, referring to new restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on the first day of England’s new national lockdown, Johnson said the "challenges we face are significant across the UK” but that four weeks – the length of the new lockdown – was enough to make a real impact.

He said he knew “how difficult this is for people,” who are “anxious and fed up,” emphasizing that the new lockdown would not be a repeat of the spring, when the lockdown was extended due to high numbers of deaths and infections.

Johnson said the government plans to go back to the tier system after Dec. 2, the day the lockdown will end.

“Today we're announcing a further £15 million to help councils offer safe accommodation for people who are sleeping rough or are at risk of becoming homeless,” he said.

“This program will help areas that need additional support most during the restrictions and throughout the winter.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme, which pays 80% of people’s wages, will remain in place until the end of March, with a review in January.

Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the UK has removed Sweden and Germany from its so-called Travel Corridor list.

“From 4am Saturday 7th November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate. All arriving passengers should complete a passenger locator form on arrival,” he said on Twitter.

UK government data released Thursday evening showed that there were 24,141 new positive coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 157,860. There were also a further 378 deaths, bringing the total to 48,117.

A total of 104 people were arrested during protests in London on the first day of the quarantine.

London police said in a statement that as the crowds began to gather, police warned the demonstrators to go to their homes.

“Police operations continue, and we expect the number of arrests to increase,” the statement said.

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