The country has been told once again to “stay at home” as part of a national lockdown similar to that of last March announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday.
From Tuesday, the raft of tough new measures come in the face of rising COVID-19 cases, pressure on the NHS and a new variant of the virus – including a full lockdown similar to that of last March.
During a statement on Monday night Mr Johnson said the new variant was “both frustrating and alarming”.
“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said.
“My thoughts are with all those who’ve lost loved ones, with most of the country already under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control.”
Under the new measures:
- People must stay at home with leaving only allowed for limited reasons such as shopping for essentials
- Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges must move to remote provision of learning
- The clinically extremely vulnerable must again shield
Full guidance is available here.
The government believes the move is now needed because the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
The new virus is now between 50-70% more transmissable, and deaths have risen by almost 20%.
Mr Johnson said the government would provide support to schools including those facing delayed exams.
He said, however, there was one difference this time round, the roll-out of the new vaccines, and shared his hopes that that would help end the lockdown sooner.
He added: “I really do believe that we’re entering the last phase of the struggle because with every job that goes into our arms tilting the odds against COVID and in favour of the British people.”
If all was successful and people behaved, he said, he hoped the lockdown would begin to end after February half-term with a return to the tiering system.
On Monday, national cases increased by 58,784 to 2,713,563 – the highest daily case number ever recorded – while deaths rose by 407 to 75,431.
The UK COVID-19 Alert Level has moved from Level 4 to Level 5 due to the number of cases rising and a risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed.
There were 501 new coronavirus cases and five COVID-related deaths reported in Greater Lincolnshire including 407 new cases in Lincolnshire, 54 in North Lincolnshire and 40 in North East Lincolnshire.
Scotland and Northern Ireland entered similar lockdowns too.