Nearly 56 million people in England will return to a full coronavirus lockdown, possibly until mid-February, to try to cut spiralling infection rates, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
From Tuesday, primary and secondary schools and colleges will be closed for face to face learning except for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. University students will not be returning until at least mid-February. People were told to work from home unless it’s impossible to do so, and leave home only for essential trips.
All nonessential shops and personal care services like hairdressers will be closed, and restaurants can only operate takeout services.
As of Monday, there were 26,626 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England, an increase of more than 30% from a week ago. That is 40% above the highest level of the first wave in the spring. Shortly before Mr. Johnson’s announcement, the four Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the country had moved to the highest coronavirus level five.
People will be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons like shopping for essentials, exercise, and medical assistance. Johnson also said people could still leave home “to escape domestic abuse” — an issue that arose early during the pandemic, as isolation and lockdown conditions exacerbated barriers to escape for victims of domestic violence.
International departures are now limited to those who have “a legally permitted reason,” such as work.
Outdoor sports venues will have to close. But unlike spring’s lockdown, nurseries will not be shuttered, elite sports can go ahead, and places of worship will remain open on the basis that attendees adhere to social distancing rules. The lockdown is expected to remain in place at least through the middle of February.
His announcement follows that of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who announced a lockdown that will begin on midnight, Tuesday, local time. Wales and Northern Ireland — the other nations of the UK — are already in lockdown. The UK is back in crisis mode as new daily Covid-19 cases soared above 50,000 cases for nearly a week, and hospitalization exceed