British Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that people in the U.K. feel “frustrated” with new rules that he unveiled last weekend to ease the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
In an article in the Mail on Sunday, he accepted that people found the new restrictions complex.
“I understand people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules,” Johnson wrote. “I recognise what we are now asking is more complex than simply staying at home, but this is a complex problem and we need to trust in the good sense of the British people.”
The acknowledgement follows criticism over the way he lifted lockdown measures across the U.K. this week, calling on people to go back to work. Schools and some shops should be able to open from June 1 unless the outbreak worsens.
Over 34,500 people in the U.K. have died from the coronavirus so far, according to Johns Hopkins University — the second highest death toll in the world after the U.S.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, lambasted the prime minister in Sunday’s Observer for keeping towns and cities outside London in the dark over the new measures.
“In Greater Manchester, we had no real notice of the measures,” he said, adding that there was no time to prepare the city’s transport network for people returning to work.
The councils of Gateshead, Manchester and Newcastle have told residents to stay at home, despite Johnson easing containment measures. Hartlepool’s and Liverpool’s councils, meanwhile, have said they are unlikely to open schools in their regions on June 1 as per the U.K. government’s timetable.
Fresh polling by Opinium for the Observer newspaper suggests that U.K. citizens are also becoming more discontented. The figures show 39 percent of people surveyed in the last week approve of Johnson’s handling of the pandemic — 42 percent disapprove.
Johnson also used his piece in the Mail on Sunday to announce the fast-tracking of plans to open a new Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre in Oxford. A £93 million investment from the government will mean the facility can open a year ahead of schedule in summer 2021.