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Boris Johnson seeks to calm anger

'I understand that people will feel frustrated'
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London on Wednesday.

Reuters   |   London   |   Published 18.05.20, 12:09 AM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted on Sunday that there was public frustration with his government’s measures to ease the coronavirus lockdown following widespread criticism of the new rules, which he concededwere more complex.

As a poll for the Observer newspaper indicated growing dissatisfaction with Johnson’s handling of the crisis, he wrote in the Mail on Sunday paper: “I understand that people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules.”

On Wednesday, ministers began a gradual easing of restrictions in England, with people who could not work from home encouraged to return to their jobs whilst being told to avoid using public transport if possible.

There has been criticism that the government’s message is confusing. People are forbidden to invite friends and relatives into their homes, for example, but can allow in prospective home buyers for property viewings.

Sunday’s Observer poll showed 42 per cent now disapproved of the government’s handling of the crisis — a fall of nine points from last week. That compared with 39 per cent who approved, the first time more people were unhappy with the government’s performance than supportive.

“We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before — moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work,” Johnson said in the Mail on Sunday.

“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.”

So far 34,636 people have died in Britain from Covid-19, the highest figure in Europe. The lockdown has also devastated the economy, with figures showing it had shrunk by 5.8 per cent in March.

“If we all stick at it, then we’ll be able, gradually, to get rid of the complexities and the restrictions and make it easier and simpler for families to meet again,” Johnson wrote.

“But we must move slowly, and at the right time.” 

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