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Therese Raphael

Boris Johnson Confronts a Swedish Obsession

Many English Conservatives want a laissez-faire approach to lockdowns, but Britain isn’t really equipped to take that route.

Where Nicola leads, Boris follows.

Where Nicola leads, Boris follows.

Photographer: Duncan McGlynn/Getty Images Europe

Whenever you hear a policy that touches on pubs in Britain, you know it’s serious. With coronavirus infections and hospitalizations rising, Boris Johnson is preparing new lockdown rules, including shutting down boozers and restaurants in the north of the country. That has sparked a bitter debate among his cabinet, his party and the public about whether his caution is costing too much.

As so often in this pandemic, Scotland has gone first, closing pubs and restaurants for a 16-day “circuit-break” to try to curb infections, even though the Scottish infection rate is still far below English cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. The new measures for the north of England appear to mirror the Scottish lockdown, only without the time limit.