Sat, 31 Oct 2020
People in England have been told to stay at home as the country is placed under another national lockdown from Thursday – with the closure of hospitality and non-essential shops.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions – which are set to last until December 2 – at a press conference this evening (Saturday).
The PM warned that the NHS will be overwhelmed within weeks without a national lockdown in England, as he ordered the country to stay at home in a bid to reverse the spread of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister said that without action, deaths would reach “several thousand a day”, with a “peak of mortality” worse than the country saw during the lockdown in April.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail across the nation will close from Thursday, although takeaways will be allowed.
People will be told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, but schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.
People will be allowed outside to exercise and socialise in public spaces outside with their household or one other person, but not indoors or in private gardens, and will be able to travel to work if they cannot work from home.
Furlough payments at 80% will be extended for the duration of the restrictions as high streets once again shut up shop.
MPs will vote on the new measures before they are introduced at 00.01 on Thursday, and when they lapse, the current tier system will be reintroduced.
It comes after new data showed the extent of cases across England. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 568,100 people in households were infected with coronavirus in the week ending October 23.
In a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said “no responsible Prime Minister can ignore” the rising rates of Covid-19 infections as he announced the lockdown.
He said “we need to be humble in the face of nature”, adding that the virus was spreading even faster than the worst case scenario envisaged by scientists.
Rates of coronavirus have been increasing in all parts of England and among all age groups and Government scientific advisers have said only a national lockdown could get on top of the epidemic.
Mr Johnson was joined by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Prof Whitty said inpatient beds was going up “on an exponential curve” and several hospitals already have more people in beds than at the peak earlier in the year.
Sir Patrick said what was clear from modelling in terms of deaths over the winter “there is potential for this to be twice as bad or more compared to the first wave”.
In terms of hospital admissions across England, over the next six weeks into early December, they would exceed the number of hospitalisations seen during the peak of the first wave, he said.
He added that it was a “very grim picture” of what would happen without further action.