Boris Johnson set to announce four-week national Covid lockdown from Thursday
BORIS Johnson is expected to announce today that England will be plunged back into a four-week national lockdown from Thursday.
The PM will reveal tonight at a press conference that all pubs and restaurants will close in a huge U-turn – four months after the end of the first UK-wide shutdown.
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Mr Johnson introduced a three-tier system this month to try to steer away from a second national lockdown.
But as cases continue to rise he is expected to tell the nation in a press conference that it's impossible to avoid.
But he will face a huge Tory rebellion from his backbenchers – who are determined to fight another national shutdown.
They will have to vote on the national measures this week before they can come into force.
It came as Britain officially passed one million cases of the virus today.
The measures he's set to reveal include:
- Pubs and restaurants will shut but will be allowed to do takeaways and deliveries
- Nurseries and schools are to remain open
- International travel will be banned – except for work
- No overnight stays and internal UK-wide travel is set to be discouraged
- All non-essential retail will close, but supermarkets will be able to sell any and all goods they like
- There will be a nationwide ban on people mixing indoors – except for childcare
- It's thought that people will be allowed to exercise as much as they like
- Manufacturing and construction will be encouraged to keep going – and Parliament and courts will stay open
The lockdown is set to last until December 2 in an attempt to save the nation's Christmas.
But it will apply to England only – Scotland and Wales have said they will assess the situation and apply their own rules.
The Tier strategy is thought not to be completely scrapped, and will return after the lockdown.
It's not yet known whether the public will be given the same 'stay at home' message like during the first official lockdown.
The announcement comes after ministers were briefed by scientific advisers this afternoon in an emergency crunch meeting, following leaked reports of the second lockdown looming.
The PM will be joined by chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance for the press conference.
It comes after experts presented Downing Street with “grim” data on the second wave, despite the R-rate falling.
It was reported that Britain faces a "massive spike" in Covid deaths on Christmas Eve if no action is taken, scientists warned.
Brits reacted by hitting the shops and panic buying loo roll and milk, while also making plans to flee out of cities to the countryside.
The news was met with dismay from those in the hospitality industry – fearing another lockdown's effect on their businesses.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said a national lockdown would be "absolutely devastating" for the industry and called for the sector to receive "significant additional help in order to get through this".
Large swathes of the country have already been living under tough Tier 3 restrictions, unable to mix households at all, and those in Tier 2 were only allowed to meet outside.
More restrictions had begun to spread across the country over the past few weeks – with areas slowly being moved into stricter tiers as the PM resisted a national lockdown.
The entirety of England had already been under a 10pm hospitality curfew and forced to abide by the Rule of Six for weeks.
But this week Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, is said to have warned: “We’ve got to hit this hard and fast.”
No 10 was given a chilling report claiming deaths from the virus could peak just before Christmas, with a "massive spike" on Christmas Eve.
And government medics warned some hospitals may not even have enough staff to cope with the extra patients on top of the normal winter strains on the NHS.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Breakfast that "the tiered approach to restrictions hasn't worked particularly well".
When asked what could be achieved with a reported four-week lockdown, Prof Semple said: "If that was applied nationally and was adhered to you would see a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and that's in four weeks' time."
He suggested there should be a review at four weeks and there could be a "bit of easing around the festive activities" but that a lockdown would give officials "time to get test, trace and isolate processes really up to scratch".
Experts warned a circuit breaker style two-week lockdown would now not be long enough to curb infections.
They told No 10 it is too late for that option now, with a month-long national lockdown the only way to bring down cases
A further 274 new deaths were also reported yesterday, down from 280 a day earlier, taking the toll to 46,229.
France and Germany announced national lockdown restrictions earlier this week, while in Northern Ireland pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks starting on October 16 with the exception of takeaways and deliveries.
Wales is currently under a "firebreak" lockdown, with leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses closed, and in Scotland the majority of people will be under Level 3 of a new five-tier system from Monday.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had yesterday refused to rule out a national lockdown like those in France and Germany.
He said: “We’re always ready for further measures that we can take.”
Sage says deaths are highly likely” to exceed the “reasonable worst case scenario” drawn up to help the Government with its planning.
It assumed there would be more than 500 Covid deaths a day for 90 days, with a peak of 800 a day in February and 85,000 in total in the second wave.
Politicians and scientists want to bring infection rates down far enough so loved ones can gather safely for Christmas.
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