The new lockdown in England at a glance
England will be put into a full national lockdown that will last until the February half term.
According to the new rules:
- All primary and secondary schools will close with immediate effect
- Classes will remain only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
- The plan is for them to reopen after the February half-term break.
- A-Level and GCSE exams are unlikely to go ahead as planned in the summer.
- Universities will also remain closed to students until mid-February.
- Nurseries will remain fully open.
- The public should stay at home unless they need to leave for one of just five reasons: If they cannot work from home, shopping for necessities, exercise, to give care and for medical treatment or emergencies.
- All non-essential retailers, hospitality and ‘personal care’ like hairdressers must close.
- Restaurants and other eateries can continue to operate for takeaways and deliveries.
- But pubs will no longer be allowed to offer take-away alcohol sales.
- Children’s playgrounds will remain open.
- All indoor and outdoor sports venues, including golf courses, gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts must close, and team sports cannot take place, even outdoors.
- Elite sports like the Premier League can go on under their own schemes.
The guidance is for people who are fit and well.
There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
They should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. The guidance says you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.
The rules for all people in England also state:
- You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
- You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
- You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
- Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
Detailed guidance on the national lockdown:
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:
- Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
- Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services
- Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
- Education and childcare – you can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend.
- Meeting others and care – you can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
- Exercise – you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble, limited to once per day, and not outside your local area
- Medical reasons – you can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
- Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse).
- You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment
- Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment
- Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.
There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
Michael Gove today delivered a stark warning that lockdown will only start to be lifted gradually in March – and that timeline depends on the government meeting its highly ambitious targets for vaccination.
The Cabinet Office minister admitted there was no ‘certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson on England last night will be eased at the end of February as hoped.
The PM set a goal of giving first doses of vaccine to more than 13million vulnerable people over the next seven weeks, with doubts already voiced over whether it is possible.
But Mr Gove cautioned that even in the best case scenario not ‘all’ of the curbs will go, as he braced the weary public for a long haul to combat the fast-spreading new variant of coronavirus.
In a round of interviews, Mr Gove said a review of the situation would happen in the February half-term.
‘We hope we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that but what I can’t do is predict – nobody can predict – with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when,’ he told Sky News.
‘What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination programme, the more people who are protected in that way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions.’
The heavy caveats came after the PM made another extraordinary U-turn by plunging the country into a March-style lockdown, saying the NHS risked being overrun within weeks if he failed to act.
Just a day after he urged parents to send their children back, Mr Johnson declared in a sombre address from No10 that primary and secondary schools will be shut from today, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in.
Nurseries can stay open. But university students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead as planned.
Teenagers might not know for weeks how their exams will be replaced, with Ofsted expected to launch a consultation, although government sources said some ‘contingency’ plans had already been considered.
Under the the new guidance, published overnight, non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools will be ordered to close – with Rishi Sunak due to lay out another package of support today amid growing fears about the impact on the economy.
Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible.
The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help.
Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place.
Those who break the rules face a £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
The extraordinary third national squeeze will come into effect in the early hours of Wednesday after the regulations are laid today, but Mr Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now. MPs will get a vote on them on Wednesday when Parliament is recalled, although there is no prospect of them being defeated.
With his hands clasped together and seated behind a desk in Downing Street, Mr Johnson made clear there is no chance of them being lifted for at least seven weeks – and possibly longer if the vaccine rollout does not go well.
‘Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic. It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.
He said it would not be ‘possible or fair’ for exams to go ahead this summer as normal.
‘The weeks ahead will be the hardest but I really do believe that we are reaching the end of the struggle,’ he said, pledging that by mid-February the top four categories on the vaccine distribution list will have had their first jabs.
There are 13.2million people in the top four groups on the vaccination list – care home residents and the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers, the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable.
But the Prime Minister admitted that he could only give assurance that the situation will improve assuming that ‘our understanding of the virus does not change again’.
He said: ‘By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
‘That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.
‘And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.’
Mr Johnson said he was left with no option after being confronted with catastrophic figures about the burden on the NHS by science chiefs today.
Hospital patients with coronavirus had risen by 40 per cent over a week, and are now higher than at the peak of the first wave.
The scale of the problem was underlined as the latest grim daily tally was released, with 58,784 new cases – a 42 per cent rise on last Monday.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the crackdown was ‘essential’ and his MPs will support them, effectively guaranteeing their approval in the Commons. But he criticised the government for not changing course sooner.
Senior Tory MPs had joined the Opposition in called for the introduction of another national lockdown. But the idea of hardening the restrictions is likely to spark fury from other Conservatives, who insist the country’s experience of the pandemic shows that lockdowns do not work and are crippling the economy.
As England wakes up to a third national lockdown and months more coronavirus chaos:
- Matt Hancock said he is ‘incredibly worried’ about a new South African variant of coronavirus that experts fear might not be caught by the current crop of vaccines;
- Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old retired maintenance manager from Oxford, has become the first to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine outside of trials;
- Teaching unions launched a concerted bid to shut down all classrooms despite Boris Johnson’s plea to stay open, leaving millions of parents to begin homeschooling their children for at least a fortnight with often only a few hours’ notice;
- The latest data show a 33 per cent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and January 2.
Michael Gove admitted there was no ‘certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson on England last night will be eased at the end of February as hoped
In an address from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: ‘Our hopsitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic. It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out.’
Downing Street issued a series of slides showing the problem the country faces due to the new variant of the virus – the evidence that apparently forced Mr Johnson into his latest extraordinary U-turn
Hundreds of thousands of non-essential retailers will have to keep their doors closed under England’s third nation-wide lockdown
ALL YOUR LOCKDOWN QUESTIONS ANSWERED
By Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail and Henry Martin for MailOnline
Why is England going into lockdown again?
Cases caused by the new, more infectious variant of Covid-19 are surging rapidly in every part of the country. In the past week they have gone up by 30 per cent, and the number is 40 per cent higher than the peak of the first wave in April. Medical experts have warned the NHS could be overwhelmed in 21 days unless action is taken.
How long will it last?
Until mid-February. It will then be subject to a review.
Can I see family and friends?
The mixing of households indoors is not allowed outside of support bubbles. You can meet one other person outside your household for outdoor exercise.
If I am in a bubble with someone, can I still see them?
The support bubble system – where a person living alone can pair with another household – can continue. Childcare support bubbles are also still allowed.
Are schools closing?
Yes. All primary and secondary schools and colleges have to close and switch to online learning, except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable. Universities must also stay closed. Early years providers, such as nurseries, and special schools can stay open.
Will GCSEs and A-levels be cancelled?
Boris Johnson said it would not be possible, or fair, for all exams to go ahead as normal this summer. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will work to put alternative arrangements in place.
Will churches and other places of worship stay open?
Yes, they are allowed to open for individual prayer and communal worship.
Can I go on holiday in the UK or abroad?
No. Only essential travel is allowed.
Will playgrounds stay open?
Unlike the first lockdown, yes.
Can I move home?
Yes, you can still view houses and move home.
Can I let my cleaner or plumber into my house?
Yes, essential visits by tradesmen can continue.
Can I still exercise?
You can exercise outdoors with your household, your support bubble or alone with one other person from another household. Exercise should be limited to once a day and should be local, meaning you should not drive to a beauty spot.
Can I play golf or tennis?
No. Courses and courts must shut.
Is professional sport affected?
No. Elite sports that are Covid-secure and have bubble systems can continue.
Will there be extra financial support?
The furlough scheme will remain in place until April.
Can I leave my house to get a Covid vaccine?
Yes, you can leave your home for all medical appointments.
Will garden centres be open?
Are restaurants open?
Not for eating inside, but cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can serve takeaway food and non-alcoholic drinks until 11pm.
Will non-essential retailers such as clothes shops be open?
No. But click-and-collect services will be permitted to continue.
What about hairdressers and beauty salons?
No, they are among the non-essential shops that must close.
Can I go to work?
Only if you ‘absolutely cannot’ work from home. This means the construction industry can continue and key workers can continue to go to work.
Can I get married?
Only in exceptional circumstances, for example in cases where people are dying or have debilitating conditions.
I had to ‘shield’ last time – will I have to do this again?
Yes. Those who are clinically vulnerable and who were previously told to shield should stay at home and leave only for medical appointments or exercise. They will receive a letter shortly informing them about this.
Can I travel to my second home?
Travel is allowed only for essential work, shopping for necessities, exercise, caring for the vulnerable and medical reasons.
What shops are open?
Food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences are allowed to remain open, along with market stalls selling essential retail.
Can I go to the bank?
Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses can stay open.
Can I take my pet to the vet?
Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals can stay open, along with animal rescue centres
What about public facilities?
Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas, along with outdoor playgrounds, outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise can stay open
In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said the previous tiers would have been enough to cope with Covid as it was originally, but the new variant – which is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more transmissible – was spreading in a ‘frustrating and alarming’ manner.
‘As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,’ he said.
Mr Johnson said that in England the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 – some 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.
On December 29 ‘more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK’, the number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week ‘and will sadly rise further’.
‘With most of the country, or maybe under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.
‘In England we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.’
Mr Johnson said parents ‘may reasonably ask why’ decisions on schools were not taken ‘sooner’.
‘The answer is simply that we’ve been doing everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances,’ he said.
‘And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children. Children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.
‘The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.’
Mr Johnson said the move on schools means ‘it’s not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer, as normal’.
He said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will work with regulator Ofqual to put in place ‘alternative arrangements’.
The PM added: ‘We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we will distribute more devices to support remote education.’
The premier suggested England could ‘steadily’ move out of lockdown from mid-February – but he heavily caveated his optimism, in a sign that the crisis could drag on much longer.
‘If our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically, once again, if the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful, if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect and – critically – if everyone plays their part by following the rules, then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.
‘And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted. So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.’
He rounded off his downbeat address by repeating the mantra from the first lockdown, ’stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.
‘I want to say to everyone right across the UK that I know how tough this is,’ he said.
‘And I know how frustrated you are and I know that you have had more than enough of Government guidance about defeating this virus.
‘But now, more than ever, we must pull together.’
He warned that ‘the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet’ but ‘with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people’.
‘Thanks to the miracle of science not only is the end in sight but we know exactly how we will get there.’
Even the Scilly Isles has not escaped, shifting from Tier 1 straight to full lockdown.
No10 sources insisted that the government wants to go back into a tiering system when the virus subsides and vaccinations make it possible.
Businesses voiced dismay at the new clampdown that threatens to wreak more havoc on the economy.
British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: ‘Businesses will understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on the spiralling threat to public health, but they will be baffled and disappointed by the fact that he did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.’
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘A third lockdown is yet another blow to our sector. Particularly after it has faced an abysmally quiet Christmas and New Year’s, which saw many pubs remain closed over what is meant to be their busiest time of the year.
‘The announcement today adds to the woes of pubs as it shows they are a long way from reopening properly. The road to recovery for the pub sector just got longer.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Government should have gone further by extending the rules on wearing face masks to cover busy outdoor areas and toughening up controls at the borders.
‘This announcement by the Government of a full national lockdown was inevitable,’ Mr Khan said.
‘It is unclear why it took Boris Johnson so long to reach this conclusion.’
The latest infection tally meant the UK has passed the milestone of 50,000 infections every day for a week, suggesting that the easing of restrictions at Christmas helped fuel the outbreak.
Department of Health chiefs also posted 407 more deaths, up just 14 per cent on the figure recorded last week.
But it can take infected patients several weeks to fall severely ill and succumb to the illness, meaning fatalities have yet to reach their peak and will continue to rise.
The UK recorded almost 1,000 deaths twice last week, in grisly tolls not seen since the darkest days of the spring.
Nicola Sturgeon announced a drastic crackdown in the Scottish Parliament on Monday afternoon, with a legally-enforced stay at home order from midnight and schools north of the border set to stay closed until February.
Mr Johnson confirmed yesterday morning that ‘tougher’ measures were coming despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses being administered – although at that point he appeared to hint he would prefer to stick with the Tier system in England.
SAGE has cautioned that it is probably impossible to control the new coronavirus variant while they remain open – although experts say a total shutdown still might not be enough to bring the ‘R’ reproduction rate below one.
Michael Gove held a conference call with the First Ministers from the four nations to coordinate strategies. But in a sign of splits, Wales has said it will push ahead with reopening schools over the next fortnight unless there is new evidence about the variant strain.
Summer exams are off as schools, colleges and universities shut
Schools and colleges across England will be told to shut until the middle of February under Boris Johnson’s new national coronavirus lockdown.
Primary and secondary schools will have to shift to remote learning for the overwhelming majority of pupils, with only vulnerable children and the children of key workers allowed to attend classes in person.
Meanwhile, university students will be banned from returning to campuses and will be told to study remotely from home as the Prime Minister desperately tries to get the rate of Covid-19 infection back under control.
The restrictions and school closures are expected to last until the February half-term which is due to begin on February 15.
The massive disruption to learning means the Government will rethink its current plan for pupils to sit GCSEs and A-levels broadly as normal in May and June.
However, pupils and parents face an uncertain next few weeks, with the Department for Education and exam regulator Ofqual yet to hammer out the details of the updated exams plan.
Despite the school closures, early years settings like nurseries, as well as special schools, will be allowed to remain open during lockdown.
Announcing the shutdown of the nation’s schools during an address to the nation from Downing Street this evening, Mr Johnson said the Government had no choice but to take the drastic action as ministers ‘do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease’.
The Prime Minister said he ‘completely understands the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents’ and that ‘we recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal’.
Mr Johnson said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will announce ‘alternative arrangements’ for the assessment of pupils in the coming weeks.
Earlier, ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined demands from Labour and Tory MPs for an immediate national squeeze with schools and borders shut and a ban on all household mixing.
Mr Hunt warned that mutant Covid has put the NHS under ‘off the scale’ pressure compared to normal winters and the government ‘cannot afford to wait’ even one more day.
Mr Hunt posted on Twitter: ‘To those arguing winter is always like this in the NHS: you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as Health Sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those.’
Mr Hunt said the ‘No1 lesson’ from the pandemic is that countries can ‘save lives and get their economies back to normal faster’ if they ‘act early and decisively’.
‘We therefore cannot afford to wait: all schools should be closed, international travel stopped, household mixing limited and the tier system reviewed so that the highest tier really does bring down infection levels,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘The good news is that unlike before these restrictions will be time limited to the 12 weeks or so it will take to get the vaccine out to those most vulnerable to covid – so there is light at the end of the tunnel.’
Mr Hunt was among a growing band of Conservative MPs, including ex-No10 adviser Neil O’Brien, urging emergency steps to tackle the coronavirus surge.
Labour has also been pushing for a squeeze, with Sadiq Khan saying Mr Hunt was ‘spot on’.
Earlier Matt Hancock suggested the first step will be to escalate even more of the country into Tier 4, saying Tier 3 did not seem able to hold back the more infectious version of the deadly disease.
He insisted the problem was partly down to people failing to obey the rules, amid calls from some MPs for police to be given more powers.
But there were questions about how much more impact extending the coverage of Tier 4 could have, given three-quarters of England is already subject to the harshest bracket, where only essential shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people are meant to stay at home.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England (PHE), said the latest daily figures were a ‘bitter warning’ about the threat.
‘The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all. We must not forget the basics – the lives of our friends and family depend on it,’ she said.
Speaking during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London yesterday morning, Mr Johnson warned of ‘tough tough’ weeks to come.
He added: ‘If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.’
Mr Johnson tried to strike a positive note, promising there will be a ‘massive ramp up’ in vaccination numbers.
BORIS JOHNSON’S LOCKDOWN ANNOUNCEMENT IN FULL
‘Since the pandemic began last year, the whole United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight Covid.
‘And there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work.
‘But 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% 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% higher than the first peak in April. On 29 December, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record.
‘The number of deaths is up by 20% over the last week and will sadly rise further. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones.
‘With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.
‘In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.
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