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People in England will be told to stay at home as the country is placed under another national lockdown on Thursday – with the closure of hospitality and non-essential shops.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the new restrictions – which are set to last until December 2 – at a press conference later on Saturday.
Pubs, bars and restaurants will close, though takeaways will be allowed, and all non-essential retail will be shut.
The restrictions will be similar to those introduced at the start of the pandemic in March, however this time schools and universities are expected to remain open.
People will still be able to exercise outdoors, and travel to work if they cannot work from home, though restrictions on international travel are likely to be introduced.
MPs will vote on the new measures before they are introduced at 00.01 on Thursday, and when they lapse, the current tier system will be reintroduced.
Mr Johnson will be joined by Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance in Downing Street at 6.30pm, following a meeting of his Cabinet earlier in the afternoon.
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) October 30, 2020
The introduction of national restrictions marks a dramatic shift in Government policy, as the Prime Minister has until now resisted pressure to reintroduce nationwide restrictions.
It comes after new data showed the extent of cases across England. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 568,100 people in households were infected with coronavirus in the week ending October 23.
Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have backed the introduction of more stringent measures.
Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar said the consequences of sticking with the current “insufficient” restrictions would be “much worse” than going for a second lockdown.
The director of the Wellcome Trust said: “The sooner we act, the sooner we can start to recover. It will be a very difficult few weeks now and no one can underestimate the toll that will take on people.
“But the consequences of sticking with the current insufficient restrictions would have been much worse.”
The coming months are going to be very difficult in UK, in Europe and North America. But we can & will get through this. We will be in a much better position in early 2021, when we will start to see better diagnostics, effective vaccines & treatments.
— Jeremy Farrar (@JeremyFarrar) October 30, 2020
Sage member Professor Calum Semple told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “For the naysayers that don’t believe in a second wave, there is a second wave.
“And, unlike the first wave, where we had a national lockdown which protected huge swathes of society, this outbreak is now running riot across all age groups.”
Professor John Edmunds said the only way to have a “relatively safe” Christmas is to take “stringent” action now to bring the incidence of the virus “right down”.
It comes after a senior Government scientific adviser said it is “definitely too late to think that the two-week circuit-breaker on its own will sort this out”.
“It would bring it down a bit but it wouldn’t be enough to bring (the R value) right down. A two-week circuit-breaker would have an effect but now almost certainly it would need to go on for longer to have a significant effect.”