THE WHOLE of England is now in lockdown for the next six weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking tonight, warned the steep increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths was so severe it could see the NHS become completely overwhelmed within 21 days.
Today the number of new cases across England was 58,784 with 404 deaths. The number of people currently in hospital with Coronavirus nationwide is 23,823.
He said the vaccine had brought some hope and by mid-February everyone in the four priority groups in England should be vaccinated.
Among them were all residents in care homes, along with their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers and everyone is vulnerable and therefore at risk from the virus.
He said even after vaccination there was a time lag of two to three weeks until people were protected.
All schools, but not nurseries, will close to all pupils with the exception of those considered vulnerable and the children of key workers.
The PM admitted the exams would not be able to go ahead as planned this year, adding further announcements would be made in due course.
The new national lockdown, which comes into effect immediately, sees all hospitality and non-essential shops closed and people must stay at home except to work if they cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance (such as getting a Covid test), to escape domestic abuse or to care for a vulnerable person.
He said, if deaths started to fall, restrictions could be relaxed and schools would reopen after February half-term, which would be around February 22.
Mr Johnson concluded by urging everyone to play their part by ‘staying at home’, ‘protecting the NHS’ and in the process ‘saving lives’.
This will be the third England-wide lockdown after the first one in March last year and the second from November to December.