Boris Johnson blames COVID rule breakers for latest wave and warns of new national lockdown

Watch: Johnson calls for ‘spirit of togetherness’ to survive tough coronavirus winter

  • In televised address, PM blames “too many breaches” of rules on second wave of COVID-19 infections

  • Boris Johnson hints at second lockdown, saying government “reserves the right to go further”

  • It comes after PM announced raft of new coronavirus rules set to last six months

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Boris Johnson has blamed coronavirus rule breakers for the second wave of infections as he warned of the potential for a second lockdown.

In a televised address to the nation, the prime minister said there have been “too many breaches” allowing the “invisible enemy to slip through”.

Johnson made the comments as he reflected on a raft of new measures, announced earlier on Tuesday, which aim to restrict the spread of the virus. The rules will be in place for six months.

He said: “For months, with those disciplines of social distancing, we’ve kept that virus at bay.

Watch: What are the new COVID-19 measures announced by the PM?

“But we have to acknowledge that this is a great and freedom-loving country. While the vast majority have complied with the rules, there have been too many breaches, too many opportunities, for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected.

“The virus has started to spread again, in an exponential way.”

Last week, one of the government’s top lockdown advisers, Prof Stephen Reicher, insisted it was “bad policies” such as encouraging people to return to their workplaces and eat out in restaurants that are to blame for the spike in infections, as opposed to people breaking the rules.

In response to the spike, Johnson set out measures such as encouraging office staff to now work from home, pubs closing at 10pm and wedding attendance being cut from 30 to 15.

Boris Johnson during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday.

Hinting at a second lockdown, he went on to warn that “if people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further”.

Johnson had also warned of the potential for “significantly greater restrictions” in the House of Commons earlier.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner reacted to Johnson’s speech by labelling his handling of the pandemic a “disaster”.

She wrote on Twitter: “Unless you acknowledge an issue you cannot sort that issue out, why keep persisting with this nonsense?”

Read more: Is the UK edging towards a second national lockdown?

However, Johnson’s latest rules have been well received by the public. A YouGov poll published shortly before his address showed an overwhelming majority – 78% – support the measures.

Of this, 44% of the 3,436 Britons surveyed “strongly support” Johnson’s measures, with 34% “somewhat supporting” them.

Only 17% said they opposed them: 9% “somewhat” and 8% “strongly”.

Johnson’s speech came after a further 4,926 lab-confirmed cases were confirmed for Tuesday. This is a figure comparable to the daily infection rates recorded during the peak of the first wave in April.

Watch: How is coronavirus treated?

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