Coronavirus: PM set to hold COVID-19 briefing later this afternoon

·2-min read

Boris Johnson will hold a COVID-19 briefing later today after England entered lockdown for the second time.

The prime minister will be joined at 5pm in Downing Street by Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England.

No new measures are expected to be announced but the pair will reflect on the new restrictions that came into play today and are set to last for four weeks.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops are now closed for a four-week period in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.

People have also been told to stay at home except for when attending school, college, university or work, or going food shopping.

The prime minister's appearance will come hours after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the furlough scheme, at 80%, will be extended to March.

Yesterday, Sir Simon announced NHS England was being placed under the highest incident alert level - four - from today as hospitals are struggling to deal with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care.

Level four means NHS England will take over coordination of the health service's response to the pandemic, in collaboration with local commissioners.

The general public will not see any difference if they use the NHS, but it means the overarching NHS England body has had to take over to ensure all services are supported appropriately.

Earlier today, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News' Kay Burley England's coronavirus lockdown could be extended beyond 2 December, despite Mr Johnson being determined it will end then.

"We've got to follow the evidence," he said.

"If there isn't to be an extension of this we go back into the tier system anyway, so we'd leave on a regional or local basis.

"You can't rule anything out in this crisis and the prime minister has said that from day one."

Mr Johnson has said after the lockdown ends at the beginning of December, the plan is for England to return to the regional tier system guided by the rate of COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths in specific areas.