Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed there will be a third national lockdown in England to tackle the rise in coronavirus cases.
Mr Johnson made the announcement during a televised address to the nation on Monday, January 4.
The new rules will replace the tier system and are expected to last until the middle of February.
He said: “Our hospitals are under more pressure than the start of the pandemic. Hospitals admissions have increased by a third to 27,000.
“The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week. It is clear we need to do more together to bring this virus under control. We must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to control the new variant.”
The announcement comes after health secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out imposing tougher restrictions.
People across England are being urged to stay at home apart from the following exceptions:
- to shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- to go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- to exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- to meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- to seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- to attend education or childcare – for those eligible
All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges will move to online learning from Tuesday, January 5. However, early years settings can remain open.
“I know how tough this is and how frustrated you are… but now, more than ever, we must pull together,” Mr Johnson added. “Thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight, but we know how to get there.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would support the measures. He said: “Now is the time to support this package, pull together and do everything we can to make this work.”
He added: “We have to rekindle the spirit of March. I urge people to comply.”
Stay up to date with our daily newsletter, email breaking news alerts and weekly round-ups. To sign up, find out more and see all of our newsletters, follow the link here
Meanwhile, most of Scotland will be placed in lockdown from Tuesday, January 5, for the whole of January to tackle the rising spread of the new coronavirus strain, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday.
The First Minister said a legally-enforceable stay-at-home order will apply from Tuesday to areas currently under Level 4 – mainland Scotland and Skye – with exemptions in place for carers, essential shopping, unlimited outdoor exercise and being part of an extended household.
Schools and nurseries will remain closed to most pupils until February, meaning an additional two weeks of home learning for most pupils.
Ms Sturgeon announced the changes in a statement at the Scottish Parliament, which was recalled from recess to discuss stricter measures, telling MSPs taking no action could see Covid-19 capacity in hospitals overrun within “three or four weeks”.
‘The lockdowns… are a body blow to our business communities’
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce said businesses will be “baffled and disappointed” the Prime Minister did not announce additional support.
He said: “The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland today are a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period.
“Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.
“Billions have already been spent helping good firms to survive this unprecedented crisis and to save jobs. These businesses must not be allowed to fail now, when the vaccine rollout provides light at the end of this long tunnel.
“The financial support for businesses needs to be stepped up in line with the devastating restrictions being placed on them. Otherwise, many of these firms may simply not be there to power our recovery when we emerge once again.
“Enhanced support for businesses, a turbo-charged vaccine rollout, and delivery of existing promises on mass testing must be delivered to enable the UK to restart, rebuild and renew.”
How has the handling of the Covid-19 restrictions affected your business? Let us know in the comments section below