Britain's government defended its new three-tier system of COVID-19 restrictions as critics suggested it was too little, too late amid reports the government's scientific advisers recommended tougher action three weeks ago.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the new system Monday in a carefully orchestrated series of events that culminated with an address to the nation. The plan sets out progressively stricter measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 based on local infection rates and placed the northern city of Liverpool in the highest risk category.
The new system comes three weeks after the government's last nationwide program, which banned gatherings of more than six people and required pubs and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. The government's scientific advisers at that time recommended ministers go further, suggesting a two- to three-week national lockdown to short-circuit rapidly rising infection rates.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC that the government took robust action in response to the scientist's advice, but ministers had to balance this against other impacts.
Jenrick said that we also have to balance that up against the effect on the economy, people's jobs and livelihoods, on education, which we have made a priority, and all the other unintended consequences of taking action.
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