England to enter second national lockdown, PM confirms

Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and Chris Witty. Picture: PA/Henry Nicholls/Eddie Mulholland/PA Video

Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and Chris Witty. Picture: PA/Henry Nicholls/Eddie Mulholland/PA Video - Credit: PA/Henry Nicholls/Eddie Mulholland/PA Video

The country will go into a second national lockdown for a month, the prime minister has confirmed.

Boris Johnson held a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday to say England will be subject to a nationwide lockdown until December 2, asking people across the country to stay home once again.

Pub, restaurants and all non-essential retail, entertainment and leisure venues will be told to close. Takeaways may be delivered and supermarkets will not have to block off non-essential goods.

Early year settings, schools and universities will stay open.

Different households will not be allowed to mix inside homes, except for the childcare and other forms of support.

More: Second lockdown: Will it happen and what would it mean?

Following the four week lockdown, areas will be governed by the existing tier system.

Apologising to businesses, Boris Johnson has said the government will extend furlough payments at 80pc for the duration of the new national lockdown measures in England.

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Manufacturing and construction will be encouraged to keep going.

The prime minister said: “I’m under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure such hardship this year and I’m truly, truly sorry for that - and that’s why we’re going to extend the furlough system through November.

“The furlough system was a success in the spring, it supported people in businesses in a critical time. We will not end it, we will extend furlough until December.”

“Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different. but it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together.

The travel industry will be affected will outbound international flights banned, except for work.

Travelling within the UK will be “discouraged”, except for work.

Overnight stays away from home will be for work purposes only.

The prime minister offered assurances to those on their own, with the rules allowing people on their own to form support bubbles, and people to meet one other person outside their household outdoors.

He said sheilders would not be asked to shield as they did in spring, but urged anyone who was clinically at risk to minimise contact.

He urged unless told otherwise for the public to attend scans, appointments and pick up their treatments.

He said: “We will get through this but we must act now to contain this autumn’s surge.

“We’re not going back to the full scale lockdown of March and April, the measures I’ve outlined are less restrictive.

“But I’m afraid from Thursday the basic message is the same: Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

On Saturday, it was confirmed there has been one million lab confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK since the start of the outbreak.

The announcement was expected to come on Monday, but has been held on Saturday following a cabinet meeting earlier in the day.

He will set out plans in Parliament on Monday.

MPs will vote on the proposals on Wednesday before coming into force after midnight on Thursday.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance attended the meeting to give the latest on the situation in the country.

Professor Whitty warned that the prevalence of coronavirus has been increasing “extremely rapidly” in recent weeks.

Citing Office for National Statistics data, the chief medical officer said; “The prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks, having been very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over spring and summer.

“And we now have around 50,000 new cases a day and that is rising.”

The University of East Anglia’s Professor Paul Hunter said a second lockdown seemed “inevitable” following recent data from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which found the rate of infections and hospital admissions was now “exceeding the reasonable worst case scenario planning levels.”

More: ‘Not warranted or wanted’ - what do our MPs think of a potential second lockdown?

Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said there is “no justification” for a second national lockdown when constituencies such as his own have low infection rates.

Mr Baker said: “I cannot think of any justification to my constituents of a further national lockdown when we are managing incredibly well through local measures to control outbreaks.

“A further lockdown for my constituency is not warranted or wanted in the vast majority of correspondence I receive. It will have significant adverse impacts on mental health, excess deaths and livelihoods.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said; “I heard the news this morning with a heavy heart, but was not surprised. It was probably inevitable the government would have to consider this.”

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