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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the idea of a sweeping vaccine mandate like the one President Joe Biden announced two weeks ago, adding that Britons are ‘great lovers of liberty’ in an interview on Tuesday.
Johnson suggested Biden might be better off using ‘sweet reason and persuasion’ to convince people to get a COVID shot.
Speaking to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in New York City amid the United Nations General Assembly, the UK leader was asked whether Biden’s unprecedented order would narrow the gap between Americans’ vaccination rate and that of Brits’.
‘You have 81 percent of your eligible citizens vaccinated right now. We’re at 64 percent. The president has turned to mandates where he has the legal authority to do so. Do you think that’s the right idea?’ Guthrie asks.
Johnson begins by playing up the differences in each country.
‘It’s different strokes for different folks, ok – it’s up to different countries to decide how they want to approach this, this is a very controversial area.’
But he adds, ‘People feel very strongly about not having the state mandate something in my country.’
Boris Johnson sat down with NBC in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly
‘We’re great lovers of liberty. We’ve had to do it by sweet reason and persuasion. And that’s working.’
Guthrie asked him what happens when persuasion alone doesn’t work.
‘Keep going. More sweet reason,’ Johnson answered.
On September 9 Biden stood in the White House and announced that he was directing the Labor Department to require private businesses with 100 employees or more to either enact a vaccine mandate or a weekly testing rule.
He also ordered employees of the federal government to get vaccinated – throwing away a previous testing option.
Biden’s sweeping order would affect more than 100 million US workers. It’s already prompted legal threats from mostly Republican-led states.
It came as the US hit a turning point after its summer COVID surge, though several Southern states still lag below a 50 percent adult vaccination rate.
President Joe Biden meets with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. He is scheduled to meet with Johnson at the White House later on Tuesday
The president sent a stark warning to those still choosing not to get the shot, ‘Our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.’
The United Kingdom rolled back most of its COVID restrictions in July on what Johnson had called ‘Freedom Day.’
Cases in the country have also been falling recently. As of Monday, new COVID infections in the UK were down 17.7 percent from the week before, according to Reuters.
Johnson has credited his vaccination campaign for the UK reemerging as ‘one of the most free societies and one of the most open economies in Europe.’
Last week he announced that booster shots would be available to people 50 and over and first shots for children aged 12 to 15.
The US COVID infection rate has begun to slow down after a summer surge
Meanwhile the US vaccination rate has slowly begun rising after a dip earlier in the summer
The UK COVID infection rate has also been slowing down, which Johnson credited to his vaccination campaign
In the US, hospitals across the South, particularly in states with largely unvaccinated populations, are still buckling under the strain of the most recent surge.
The vaccination rate, which had fallen significantly in the early summer months, began rising steadily in recent weeks.
Fully inoculated UK travelers will soon be able to enter the US from November, a sign of global confidence in the vaccines.
COVID-19 will also be a central topic at the United Nations General Assembly.
Biden will deliver remarks before the UNGA this morning before going back to Washington in the afternoon.
There he and Johnson will meet for a bilateral meeting. It comes after they signed a new defense pact with Australia aimed at containing China’s growing influence in the Pacific.
Source: Daily Mail