“It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control,” Johnson said. “That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home.”
During his televised address to the nation, Johnson reimposed measures seen during the first lockdown last spring, including closures of secondary and primary schools to all except the children of key workers and vulnerable children. He added that this means it will not be “possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal,” and alternative arrangements are being put in place.
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 earlier 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 hospitalizations exceed April’s peak.
According to Johnson, there were 30% more Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England on Monday than a week earlier. The health ministry has said the country would move to the highest Covid-19 alert level, reflecting concern that the rising number of hospitalizations could overwhelm country’s National Health Service (NHS) in coming weeks.