England is to enter an immediate, legally enforceable lockdown akin to March 2020 due to alarmingly high Covid-19 numbers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening in a nationally televised address.
The new lockdown will see mass school closures (with many 2021 exams cancelled) and tight lockdown restrictions across England until at least mid-February. The measures include people only being allowed to leave home to perform certain jobs, to do food shopping or do exercise alone in a local area. Nurseries will remain open.
Scotland had already announced a legally enforceable lockdown from midnight tonight with all schools to be closed throughout January. Schools in Wales will be closed until at least mid-January. Northern Ireland was placed into six-week lockdown on 26 December, which saw all but essential shops forced to close, and executives are discussing additional measures.
Medical experts have warned that without tough new measures the UK’s National Health Service could be overwhelmed in coming weeks.
The news comes amid soaring infection rates and hospital admissions, many linked to a new, more easily transmissible variant of the virus.
There have been a further 58,784 coronavirus cases confirmed across the UK in the past 24 hours — the sixth day in a row that cases have surpassed 50,000 — with 407 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, taking the total by that measure to 75,431.
The UK is currently rolling out two different Covid vaccines but concerns are growing that the virus could disrupt society throughout 2021.
Most cinemas across the UK are currently closed due to the pandemic but industry leaders we spoke to today were hopeful that film and TV production would be able to continue amid the new stricter rules.
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