"We are only going to get through this if we work together."
On January 4, 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown for England.
The PM announced the news in a TV address after being told that Covid-19 cases are rapidly increasing across the country due to the new strain.
People have been urged to “stay at home” as they did during the first lockdown in March 2020.
It is expected that the new national lockdown will last until the middle of February.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had earlier announced a nationwide lockdown that was introduced at midnight on January 5, 2021.
The Welsh government stated that all schools and colleges will move to online learning until January 18.
A six-week lockdown was imposed in Northern Ireland on Boxing Day. First Minister Arlene Foster said that the “stay at home” instruction would now be put back into law.
In the UK, over 58,000 people tested positive while there were 407 deaths on January 4, 2021. The ‘R’ number is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3.
Despite the soaring number of cases, there have been instances of people filming supposedly empty hospitals. This prompted Dr David Nicholl to tell people to “grow up”.
He said: “We are only going to get through this if we work together.
“We are extremely busy. It’s important people treat this with the gravity they should, we must suppress the virus.”
Dr Nicholl said it made him “pig sick” when he saw people together protesting that Covid-19 was a hoax.
He added: “It is grossly offensive to the now over 70,000 people – including the 600 of my colleagues – who have died because of this illness.”
Mr Johnson hoped that by mid-February, nearly 14 million people will have been offered the first dose of a vaccine.
People in England must stay at home from now apart from a limited number of exceptions. Here is what the national lockdown means for citizens.
Citizens must not leave or be outside of their home except where necessary. People may leave their homes to:
- Shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person.
- Go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home.
- Exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- Meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one.
- Seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse).
- Attend education or childcare – for those eligible.
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
University students will not be able to return to universities and will be expected to study from their current residence, where possible, until mid-February.
University courses will remain online except for future critical worker courses.
Mr Johnson admitted that the national lockdown meant that summer 2021 exams will not go ahead as normal but said the government will work with the exams regulator to put in place “alternative arrangements”.
People cannot leave their homes to meet socially with anyone they do not live with or are not in a support bubble.
A support bubble is a support network which links two households and social distancing does not have to be observed. A support bubble can be formed with another household of any size if:
- You live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support.
- You are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability.
- Your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on December 2 2020.
- Your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on December 2 2020.
- You are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults.
- You are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on June 12 2020.
People can exercise on their own, with one other person, or with their household or support bubble.
Avoid meeting other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
Stay two metres away from anyone not in your household.
Non-essential businesses such as hairdressers must close.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to continue takeaway or click and collect services, however, the sale of takeaway alcohol will no longer be allowed.
Essential shops, garden centres and places of worship can stay open but zoos and sports facilities must close.
Elite sports such as Premier League football will continue. PE lessons for those children still attending school will also continue.
Shielding will resume for those who are judged to be clinically vulnerable. Those groups have been urged to stay at home as much as possible and not go to work even if they cannot work from home.
They should only go outside for exercise or to attend health appointments.
The new restrictions will become law in the early hours of January 6, 2021, although people are being urged to abide by them now.
Despite the increasing figures, the PM has provided hope and stated that the vaccines are a huge difference compared to England’s last lockdown when they weren’t any.
He outlined plans to offer a first vaccine dose to all care home residents, over-70s, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is extremely vulnerable by the middle of next month.
Mr Johnson said: “If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.
“And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.”
He also called for unity, saying that while the coming weeks will be difficult, it will be “the last phase of the struggle”.