Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced another full lockdown in England, which will see all foodservice venues close to dine-in customers from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December.
However, in his press conference this evening, Johnson did detail that restaurants will still be able to provide delivery and takeaway services throughout this period.
All ‘non-essential’ shops, leisure and entertainment venues will close for the duration, though schools, colleges and universities will remain open. Johnson also advised everyone to work from home if at all possible, households will not be allowed to mix inside and people will be only able to meet one person outdoors from outside their own household.
The full lockdown is another dramatic U-turn for the government, which in recent weeks has relied on a regional tier system to try and control the spread of the coronavirus. Indeed, it was only in September that Johnson described the possibility of a second national lockdown as a “disaster”.
But during tonight’s broadcast, the UK’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance revealed that a range of scientific studies are predicting thousands of coronavirus deaths a day in England in the next few weeks without further intervention, with the NHS being overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Today the UK has already surpassed the grim milestone of 1m Covid-19 cases, with hundreds of deaths being recorded daily.
Johnson stated: “We know the impact of restrictions on people’s mental health and livelihoods and we hoped strong local leadership would be able to bring infection rates down. The R has been kept lower than it otherwise has been, but as we have seen in those charts, the virus is spreading even faster than our scientists’ reasonable worst case scenario. The risk is that for the first time in our lives, the NHS would not be there for us. Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose between saving Covid patients and non-Covid patients. Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative.”
He also revealed the furlough scheme has now been extended until December, having originally been due to end today. Johnson outlined that there may be some changes to the format though, but didn’t specify exactly what these will be. Since March, the state and employers collectively provided 80% of an employee’s salary in varying proportions throughout the months, to staff that companies wished to retain but couldn’t provide work for during the pandemic.
In Wales, its ‘firebreak’ lockdown is still due to end as planned on 9 November, while Scotland will introduce a new five tier system of restrictions on Monday. First minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has today also advised Scots not to travel to England.
Northern Ireland’s ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown is currently scheduled to finish on 13 November.