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Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown for England

The British Prime Minister made the announcement in a televised address setting out new emergency measures.

Boris giving the address tonight.
Boris giving the address tonight.
Image: PA

BORIS JOHNSON HAS ordered a new national lockdown for England which means people will only be able to leave their homes for limited reasons, with measures expected to stay in place until mid-February.

In an address to the British nation, he said the new variant – which is 50% to 70% 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.

Johnson also announced that he was shutting all schools until the middle of February. 

The lockdown will be brought into law as soon as possible, but Johnson urged the public to follow the rules straight away.

Johnson’s statement came after the chief medical officers for the first time raised the UK to the highest level on the Covid-19 alert system.

They warned the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed within 21 days “in several areas” without further action.

The restrictions are unlikely to be eased until around 13 million people aged over 70 or classed as clinically extremely vulnerable have received the vaccine and been given enough time to be protected – a period of about two to three weeks after getting the jab.

Strong stay at home messaging will return, with leaving only permitted for limited exceptions such as shopping for necessities including food and medicine.

Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday so MPs can debate the measures.

A No 10 spokesman earlier said that the move was in response to the “rapidly escalating” numbers of infections following the emergence of the new variant.

The spokesman said: “The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.

“The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”

The move came after Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland will go into lockdown for the rest of January with a legal requirement to stay at home and schools closed to most pupils until February.

Setting out the measures to come into force from tomorrow, the First Minister told MSPs in Holyrood: “It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.”

Earlier, during a visit to a vaccination centre in north London, Johnson acknowledged there was “no question” the further measures would be necessary, as cases continue to surge across the country.

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The latest data show a 41% rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and 3 January, figures which have caused alarm in Whitehall and the health service.

While ministers hailed the rollout of the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Johnson warned the nation needed to prepare for some “tough” weeks ahead as the jab was extended to the most vulnerable.

With 78% of England’s population already under the toughest current restrictions, ministers have been examining how successful the Tier 4 measures – which came into force for the first time on 20 December – have been.

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