'We will now suffer': Anger at 'protesters and partygoers' as new COVID laws set to last six months

Ross McGuinness
·4 mins read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation with the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced new measures that could last six months in the House of Commons on Tuesday. (PA)

People who have followed the rules on coronavirus will be the ones who suffer under new measures announced by Boris Johnson which could last six months, a Tory MP has said.

On Tuesday, the prime minister announced a range of new restrictions in England designed to halt the spread of COVID-19.

He told the House of Commons the new measures could be in place for six months, sparking anger among MPs.

Johnson said people should work at home if they can and that a 10pm curfew will be introduced in pubs, bars and restaurants from Thursday.

He also said fines for breaking the “rule of six” will be increased from £100 to £200.

But Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole Andrew Percy told the PM: “People have followed the rules and seen people at protests, at street parties, not having action taken against them and we will now suffer as a result of these further measures.”

NEWTON AYCLIFFE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09:  Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Andrew Percy MP, speaks to guests during a visit to the Hitachi Rail Europe site on December 9, 2016 in Newton Aycliffe, United Kingdom. The visit comes as the first British-built Intercity Express train is unveiled at the site. Hopes that the North East could win the contract to build the trains for the HS2 rail link at the factory were given a boost recently when Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that the Government would ensure that the trains were built in the UK. The tender process will take place towards the end of the decade. The trains will run on the £55 billion rail link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and the Department of Transport have confirmed that trains will also run to Darlington, Durham and Newcastle using the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and York. The trains will be 200 metres long with the possibility of connecting two trains to produce a 400-metre-long train with 1,100 seats.  (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Conservative MP Andrew Percy said people who have followed coronavirus rules will suffer under the new laws. (Getty Images)

Johnson replied: “He speaks eloquently for his constituents and those who feel let down by the minority who are not obeying the rules. That’s why we’re outlining this programme of tough enforcement today.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged Johnson, accusing the government of having “no clear strategy” for tackling coronavirus and not heeding earlier warnings about testing.

“One day people are encouraged to work in the office, today they're told the opposite,” he said.

“The government must lead and it must do so fast. This is a time of national crisis but we need clear leadership.

“We warned the prime minister months ago that testing needed to be fixed by the autumn. But the government didn’t listen – they pretended there wasn’t a problem. It didn’t act quickly enough. Now the testing system isn’t working just when we need it.

In response, the prime minister said he was grateful for Sir Keir’s support, although he said it “seems to come and go”.

Johnson said the UK is “testing more than any other country in Europe”.

He added: “One test for every five people, and actually, in spite of the massive increase in the demand for testing we have greatly increased the number of contacts that are being reached from the index cases.”

The prime minister said: “We will continue to put our arms around the people of this country.”

Addressing the Labour leader, he said: “I hope he will also say to everyone in his constituency and elsewhere that this is a balanced and proportionate response to the crisis that we face.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked Johnson if Tuesday’s change in advice on working from home would mean an extension of the furlough scheme beyond October.

He said: “The prime minister and the chancellor have rigidly refused to extend furlough, but we all know that U-turns and mixed messaging have come to define this government.

“The prime minister has changed his advice this morning on working from home, is it now time to change his mind on furlough as well?

“Prime minister, do not throw workers on the scrap-heap through no fault of their own.”

Tory Dame Cheryl Gillan questioned the prime minister’s strategy and asked: 'How can he convince worried families that he's taking the right path to unite this country and end the misery?

“With this six-month time frame he’s announced, what does he say to grandparents who want to live their lives before it’s too late and cannot see their families, to worried parents and families who cannot access a test at the moment, to workers and business owners facing financial ruin and to MPs that want to debate these matters in parliament before they are decided, not after so they can help him shoulder this onerous responsibility?”

Mel Stride, Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury select committee, said lockdowns “destroy jobs and also personal wellbeing”.

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