Saturday 31 October 2020 11:24 PM UTC
LONDON October 31: Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a dramatic shift in strategy following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed within weeks under his current system of localised restrictions.
Under the stringent new rules set to come into force from Thursday, people must stay at home except in cases where exemptions apply, such as for work, education or exercise, while all but essential shops will close.
In contrast to the months-long UK-wide lockdown earlier this year, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.
But pubs and restaurants will shut unless serving takeaway food, while all leisure and entertainment venues and non-essential shops will close.
The restrictions are planned to end on December 2.
“Now is the time to take action because there’s no alternative,” Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference after convening his Cabinet earlier in the day to sign off on the plan.
“We have got to be humble in the face of nature. In this country, alas, as in much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers,” he added.
The British premier will set out the new measures, which include extending a financial support scheme to help businesses pay furloughed employees for an additional month to December, to parliament on Monday.
The ramped-up response came as Britain surpassed one million cases during the global pandemic, after announcing nearly 22,000 new infections on Saturday, and virus hospitalisations climbed by 1,239, the highest daily tally since late April.
The government’s scientific advisors have warned that Covid-19’s prevalence, and resulting hospitalisations and deaths, are rising faster than their most dire predictions.
Some of the highlights of the restrictions
People will be told to stay at home except for education, work (if it can’t be done from home), exercise and recreation, medical reasons, shopping for food and other essentials, or to care for others
All pubs and restaurants will have to close (takeaways and deliveries can continue)
All non-essential shops will have to close (supermarkets can sell non-essential goods)
Households will not be allowed to mix with others indoors, or in private gardens
Individuals can meet one person from outside their household in an outside public space
Support bubbles for people who live alone and households made up of single parents and children can continue
Children will be able to move between homes if their parents are separated
Schools, colleges and universities will remain open
Workplaces will be asked to stay open if people cannot work from home – including construction and manufacturing
Outdoor exercise and recreation will be allowed, but gyms will have to close
Clinically vulnerable advised not to go to work if they are unable to work from home
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