Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced England must go into a national lockdown to tackle coronavirus.
People must now stay at home apart from:
- for work, if people cannot work from home, such as those in the construction sector or key workers
- to shop for essentials such as food or medicines
- to exercise once per day at a local location. This can include with one other person from outside someone’s household or support/childcare bubble
- to provide care or help to vulnerable people
- to attend medical appointments or medical care, or to flee the threat of harm or violence.
All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges will move to online learning from tomorrow, but can remain open for vulnerable children and children of key workers.
Nurseries can remain open while childcare and support bubbles will stay in place.
The clinically vulnerable must begin shielding again and will be sent a letter in the coming days.
In a TV briefing tonight at Downing Street, Mr Johnson said that collective efforts to fight the old variant of the virus was working, but the new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissable.
“Our hospitals are under pressure from COVID as any time in the pandemic…the number of deaths is up 20% over the last week.”
Alternative arrangements for exams this year will be put in place, he said, and those who get free school meals will continue to receive them.
He said the nation’s COVID alert level should move to level five – “meaning that if action is not taken, NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days”.
He added there was “one huge difference” compared to last time, saying the UK is rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in its history and had so far vaccinated more people than in the rest of Europe combined.
He said the pace of vaccination was accelerating, thanks to the arrival of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which patients began receiving earlier today.
He said he hoped if people followed the rules, death rates fall and the vaccinations are rolled out, England could move out of lockdown after the February half term.