A raft of restrictions – including work from home guidance, Covid passports and mandatory mask-wearing – are being scrapped in England. Reports suggested the Government is also considering pausing its plans to mandate Covid vaccines for NHS staff due to fears 70,000 staff could be lost as a result. The picture is quite different in New Zealand, where the whole country has been put on ‘Covid Red Alert’ following the reporting of just nine Omicron cases.
A total of just 84 new cases were reported on Saturday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed particular concern over the single-digit spread of the Omicron variant.
This prompted her to announce: “Our goal at Red is to slow the spread of the virus with more mask wearing and physical distancing precautions.”
The ramped-up restrictions will impose a cap of 100 vaccinated-only people at events and mandate mask-wearing in shops and on public transport.
Responding to the tightening of measures in New Zealand, Mark Jenkinson MP wrote: “Thank the Lord we’re in the UK.”
Nile Gardiner, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, added that the restrictions equated to “left-wing insanity in New Zealand”.
Daily Sceptic Editor Toby Young highlighted that if the political situation was different in Britain, similar measures could be being introduced here, too.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s worth remembering that if Keir Starmer was in charge, we’d have the same restrictions over here.”
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In August 2021, the whole country was plunged into a snap lockdown after just one man tested positive for the virus.
Critics in the UK have pointed to the timing of Mr Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ announcement – shortly after the Conservative Party became embroiled in ‘Partygate’ allegations – and suggested changes are being made for political rather than health reasons.
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said last week:“I don’t have total confidence” restrictions are being removed “for party management reasons” rather than because Number 10 has changed its mind about how best to deal with Covid.
New restrictions in New Zealand forced Ms Ardern to delay her own wedding.
She decided to take this course of action because she was “no different to other New Zealanders”.