'Madness' and 'confusion': what Sheffield politicians think of the new lockdown rules

Politicians in Sheffield have criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech regarding an easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 1:35 pm

Mr Johnson addressed the nation on Sunday to announce the country was moving into the next phase of its plan to tackle the spread of the coronavirus and would begin to lift the lockdown.

He said rules on social distancing and staying two meters apart from anyone outside of your household will remain.

However, those who cannot work from home were told to now go back to work but avoid public transport.

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Councillor Douglas Johnson

Those who do need to go on public transport or into enclosed spaces were advised to wear face coverings - except for children under two years old and those with respiratory conditions.

Mr Johnson also said there would be a phased reopening of businesses and schools over the coming months.

Councillors and MPs in Sheffield had a lot to say on these changes, with some calling it ‘madness’ and others saying there needed to be more clarity.

Coun Douglas Johnson, leader of the Sheffield Green Party, said: “Some other countries have started to lift the lockdown, but there have been far more deaths in Britain.

“Even in those other countries, we are already hearing of more cases after the lockdown has been eased.

“The Prime Minister gave a terrible speech. It wandered all over from wooliness to contradiction. It seems to mean there are strict rules in place still – for those who want them.

“While the Coronavirus Act evoked the 'Wartime spirit' and gave unprecedented powers to the state to restrict civil liberties, the new announcement is more like a mad rush for the lifeboats with 'every man for himself'.

“Mr Johnson’s announcement caused confusion. Confusion costs lives and also makes things much harder for responsible businesses. Unscrupulous ones will no doubt profit from the situation."

Coun Neale Gibson, Labour representative for Walkley, tweeted: “The statement was a summary of the chaos this Government has taken us to. One rule for people living in England one for everyone else. If you are a manual worker go to work and risk your life, if you are a manager you can work from home #madness."

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, tweeted: “Telling people to return to work tomorrow morning without clear guidelines for workplaces, and asking those who have no alternative to avoid public transport, will cause confusion and anxiety. After the big build up to this statement, the country deserved better.”

Part of the announcement involved confirmation that the new message from government was ‘stay alert, control the virus, save lives’, Which also faced some backlash.

Lord Paul Scriven, Liberal Democrat Peer, posted a picture of the new message on social media and said: "The irony of this ridiculous communication is that it lists the three things the UK government hasn't done."

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: “Simply repeating 'stay alert' does not make it any clearer. This rank incompetence would be funny if it wasn't literally costing lives.”

A document which outlines the new restrictions in more detail has been provided by the government at bit.ly/2xXtTMo

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