The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a second national lockdown for England. This comes after months of substantially growing numbers coronavirus cases across the country and the UK’s scientific advisors apparently urging the government to impose a short lockdown for some time. The UK joins other European countries such as Germany and France in a second lockdown, as cases of COVID-19 have risen across Europe. In the UK, restrictions came into effect on Thursday the 5th of November and have been scheduled to last four weeks, ending on the 2nd of December. The announcement came as the UK reached a total number of million confirmed coronavirus cases across the UK. The BBC paraphrased Mr Johnson’s speech as he stated: ‘”No responsible prime minister” could ignore figures which suggested deaths would reach “several thousand a day”, with a “peak of mortality” worse than the country saw in April…’
In his announcement the Prime Minster said: “Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together.” At the time of the lockdown announcement in late October, Sky News reported: ‘Modelling suggests there is an average of 43,000 to 74,000 new infections per day in England, significantly above the reasonable worst-case scenario of between 12,000 to 13,000 throughout October.’
Prior to these new lockdown rules, the UK government had put into a place a series of restrictions to attempt to slow the virus spread. This included a ‘rule of six’ whereby people were not allowed to meet more than six people at any time in any place. Following this a tiered system was put into place, placing different areas of the UK under differing restrictions in accordance with how severe the COVID-19 outbreak was in that area. According to several reports, the governments scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE) had put forward the notion of a ‘circuit breaker’ in early October. A circuit breaker would impose a short lockdown to essentially ‘short circuit’ the growing number of COVID-19 cases before the situation was out of control. It seems however, that the Governments tiered approach has not proved effective enough, as they announced a lockdown in order to
The second national lockdown has slightly different rules in comparison to the first lockdown that was imposed in March. In particular schools and workplaces will remain open, although workers have been asked to work from home where possible. Further, the national shielding program which asked those who were more vulnerable to stay inside completely, will not be reinstated. When restrictions are eased in December, the UK will apparently return to its tiered system.
According to the BBC restrictions include:
- People are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as work which cannot be done from home and education
- People are also allowed to leave home for exercise medical reasons, food and other essential shopping and providing care for vulnerable people or for volunteering
- Meeting indoors or in private gardens will not be allowed
- Individuals can meet one other person from another household outside in a public place
- Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail across the nation will close but takeaways and click-and-collect shopping can remain open
- Leisure and entertainment venues, including gyms, will also close
- Construction sites and manufacturing workplaces can remain open
- People are still allowed to form support bubbles
- Children can move between homes if their parents are separated
- Clinically vulnerable people are asked to be “especially careful” but people are not being asked to resume shielding
People are allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, to work, for education or childcare, to exercise outdoors, medical issues, to escape injury or harm, to shop for food and essentials, to provide care for vulnerable people or visit people in a support bubble, to move house and visit waste disposal centers. Some support groups will remain open and available and those workplaces that cannot work remotely will be allowed to remain open. In the first lockdown, only key workplaces (outside of those that could work remotely) were allowed to open. Outdoor exercise was limited to one session or outdoor activity per day in the first lockdown but remains unlimited in this second lockdown. The government has asked that people avoid all non-essential travel and has banned international travel and overnight stays unless for work.