Prime minister announces new lockdown for England

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new COVID-19 national lockdown to begin in England at midnight and last until at least mid-February.

Case and death rates have been rising across the UK recently, thanks in part to a new variant of COVID-19, which is believed to be between 50% and 70% more transmissible.

In summary, the third lockdown for England sets out new rules that:

• Everyone in England must stay at home, except for specific reasons, including shopping for essentials, work (if you cannot work from home), exercise, medical assistance, or to escape domestic abuse

• People who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” should begin shielding again

• Amateur team sports must stop, but not professional sport. Outdoor sports venues (not outdoor playgrounds), such as tennis courts, must close

• Restaurants can continue delivery service, but not takeaway alcohol

• This year’s GCSEs and A-level exams will be cancelled, and “alternative arrangements” will be made

• Pupils in schools and colleges across England will move to remote learning from tomorrow until February half term but will stay open for children who are vulnerable or whose parents are critical workers. Nurseries will remain open

• University students should not return to campus, and teaching will resume remotely, with some exceptions

The PM has repeated advice from chief medical officers, stating that the UK’s coronavirus alert level should move to five, the highest level.

The NHS expects its vaccination programme to have given first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the four highest priority groups by mid-February.

While the PM said that this next period of lockdown would be difficult, it would be “the last phase of the struggle”. He repeated the slogan “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.

More details on the new lockdown are available online.