Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to announce month-long lockdown across England, Sky News understands

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Boris Johnson is set to announce a month-long lockdown of England, Sky News understands.

The measures, which will run through November until 2 December, will see the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.

The prime minister is expected to move the whole of England into tougher COVID-19 measures when he holds a Downing Street news conference later today.

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This will also see a nationwide ban on different households mixing inside homes, although schools, universities and colleges will remain open.

Construction work will be encouraged to continue, while courts and parliament will also remain open.

Until now, the government has been pursuing a localised approach to COVID-19 restrictions, with the country having been divided into three levels of measures, depending on local infection rates.

With the whole of England now set to enter tougher national measures for a number of weeks, it is understood the government's plan is for different parts of the country to later be released back into the existing three tiers at different times, depending on transmission rates.

On Saturday, the UK recorded 21,915 positive coronavirus cases, slightly fewer than the 24,405 recorded the day before.

The country also recorded 326 new COVID-19 related deaths, up slightly from the 274 recorded on Friday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that 568,100 people in households were infected with coronavirus in the week ending 23 October.

Meanwhile, the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has said England has breached its "reasonable worst-case" scenario for COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions.

The prime minister will set out the new national measures at a Downing Street news conference later today.

He is expected to be joined by England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Johnson's top ministers were briefed by the government's scientists prior to a remote cabinet meeting.

The prime minister also held talks with senior Conservative MPs, with influential backbencher Steve Baker having met with Mr Johnson in Number 10.

Asked if England was about to enter a second lockdown, Mr Baker said after the meeting: "The truth is there's more nuance than that here.

"Like you, I need to look forward to what the prime minister says. I don't actually know what he's going to say tonight."

Mr Baker added he had been offered "an amazing opportunity to robustly scrutinise the arguments, the data, the forecasts of where we're going".

"What I would say to people is, the prime minister's got very, very difficult choices to make, and I would encourage all members of the public and MPs to listen extremely carefully to what the prime minister says today and over coming days," he said.

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In September, Mr Johnson warned of the "disastrous" economic consequences of a second national lockdown.

He subsequently introduced a three-tiered system for localised restrictions in England, although Labour later called for it to be replaced by a two to three-week "circuit break" national lockdown.

Government ministers had been staunchly defending their three-tiered approach in recent days, in the face of growing calls for it to be abandoned in favour of fresh national action.

As recently as Friday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that the three-tiered system was the "right approach" compared to the "blunt tool" of an England-wide lockdown.

A number of Tory MPs are likely to be angered by the introduction of tougher nationwide restrictions, although former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he "would rather a PM brave enough to change his mind than one who risks lives by sticking his head in the sand".

Wales and Northern Ireland are currently already in periods of national lockdown, which are due to end next month in both countries.

Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, reiterated on Saturday that any announcement by the prime minister would apply to England only and his country's "firebreak" lockdown will end on 9 November.

Meanwhile, a new five-level system of coronavirus restrictions is set to come into effect in Scotland from Monday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Saturday that she would "take account of any developments in England", although she stressed that the "prevalence of the virus is currently lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK".

The expected announcement of tougher nationwide restrictions on Saturday comes on the same day as the end of the furlough scheme, which saw the government initially pay 80% of wages of employees whose firms had been affected by the pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has replaced the furlough scheme with the Job Support Scheme, to begin from Sunday, which will see employees have two-thirds of their wages covered by the government if their businesses are affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

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