Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged England into its third lockdown in less than a year on Monday night following a worrying surge in coronavirus cases. Saying a new strain of the virus was to blame, Mr Johnson expressed his frustration at having to put lockdown measures back in place.
Speaking from Downing Street on Monday night Mr Johnson said: “We now have a new variant of the virus. It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading.
“Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible – that means you are much, much more likely to catch the virus and to pass it on.
“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
“In England alone, the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000. That number is 40 percent higher than the first peak in April.
“On December 29, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record.”
Britons are being told to stay home, and can only leave for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, caring for someone or to attend work.
Leaving home for one portion of exercise per day is also permitted, and Britons could meet one member of another household outdoors as long as social distancing is adhered to.
Schools, colleges and universities have been told to move teaching online, while nurseries and early learning centres can stay open.
While non-essential businesses which must close include
- Clothing stores
- Homeware stores
- Vehicle showrooms (other than for rental)
- Betting shops
- Tobacco and vape shops
- Electronic goods and mobile phone shops
- Auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment)
- Market stalls selling non essential goods
Indoor attractions, gyms, leisure centres, entertainment venues, beauty salons and tattoo parlours must also close.
Hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites are also required to shut their doors, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence.
Restaurants, cafes and bars cannot open but may provide takeaway, drive-thru and collection services.
Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, including for learning and hosting food banks and blood drives.