Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

Second national lockdown announced to try and save Christmas

England will go back into a national lockdown on Thursday, Boris Johnson has confirmed.

Schools and essential shops will stay open but all other businesses will have to close. The measures will be in place until at least December 2 in a bid to drive down spiralling rates of the virus.

The Prime Minister said he ‘could not ignore’ bleak figures which suggest the second wave could be twice as deadly as the first as he outlined details of the new lockdown at a Downing Street briefing.

He warned that ‘Christmas is going to different this year’ but added that by taking action now he hoped that families could be together.

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‘In this country, and across much of Europe, the virus is spreading faster than even the reasonable worst case scenario. .. unless we act, we could see deaths running at several thousand a day,’ he said.

Mr Johnson also said he was ‘truly sorry’ for how difficult another national lockdown will be for businesses before announcing that the furlough scheme would be extended.

The second lockdown will largely mirror the first, with pubs and restaurants forced to close, though they can operate as takeaways.

People will be asked to leave their home only for essential reasons such as a food shop, exercise, work and education.

When the lockdown ends, England will go back into the tier system.

Mr Johnson said: ‘We know the cost of these restrictions – the impact on jobs and livelihoods, and people’s mental health. No-one wants to be imposing these measures.’

The Prime Minister thanked people who had been ‘putting up with’ local restrictions, but warned: ‘We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature… the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisers.

‘Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day – a peak of mortality, alas, bigger than the one we saw in April.’

Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance told the press conference that more people could be admitted to hospital over the next six weeks than was seen over the first wave.

Projections suggest this would be seen ‘across the country as a whole’ with ‘some hospitals earlier than others, some a bit later’, Sir Patrick warned.

The models suggest ‘increasing deaths over the next six weeks’, with a figure close to the first wave peak by December 8 ‘if nothing is done’.

‘Clearly if you stop the R from increasing, if you allow R to come down then you would flatten this off and then potentially reverse it,’ Sir Patrick said.

‘But on the current trajectory that is what is thought to be the prediction for deaths over the next six weeks and of course that would continue to go up because the hospitalisations already exceeded the first wave peak by this time, deaths would follow.

‘So unfortunately that’s a very grim picture in terms of what this looks like in the absence of action and continued growth.’

More to follow

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