UK PM accused of ‘confusion’ over plan to ease COVID-19 lockdown

Boris Johnson

British regional leaders on Monday accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sowing confusion with his plan to gradually ease the country’s near-lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

The regional leaders insisted that social distancing rules remained unchanged, while a major trade union called for “caution and clarity” before allowing large numbers of people to resume travel to work.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester in north-west England, said Johnson’s statement on Sunday had come “too soon for the North West and could cause confusion.”

“My message to the people and businesses of Greater Manchester is this: please be cautious and take time before making any changes to your routine,’’ Burnham tweeted.

Leaders of devolved governments in London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all suggested they would not change social distancing rules after Johnson said the country would shift from ordering people to “stay at home” to allowing them to go out more but “stay alert.”

“Our message in Wales remains the same: Staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and others,’’ Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted.

Johnson said he had given the first sketch of a road map for reopening society, after a fall in the average number of confirmed infections with Covid-19 and deaths linked to the virus since mid-April.

He said schools and shops could begin a phased reopening in June, while hospitality businesses might need to remain closed until July.