Second stay-at-home lockdown across England
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second stay-at-home lockdown across England, starting from next Thursday and to run for four weeks until at least the start of December, in order to deal with the rapidly increasing coronavirus infections.
Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street on Saturday, Johnson said there was no choice but to be humble in the face of nature and unless tough action is taken now, the peak of mortality in the country could be even greater than the first wave triggering a medical and moral disaster.
The new measures will lapse by December 2 and, unless there is a further intervention in the meantime, England will revert to the current three-tier localised lockdown system.
"You must stay at home, you must only leave home for education, work if you cannot work from home, recreational exercise with one person from another household or your household, and to escape injury or harm, to shop for food and essentials or provide care for vulnerable people as a volunteer," he said, adding that this lockdown would be less "restrictive" than the first lockdown of earlier this year.
He also confirmed an extension to the furlough scheme until December, the wage support scheme for businesses which was set to end from November 1.
Non-essential shops and leisure and hospitality venues, such as restaurants, bars and pubs, will be required to close down.
Takeaways will be allowed to stay open and people can only meet one person from outside their household outdoors.
Unlike the first complete lockdown in March, schools, colleges and universities will be allowed to stay open.
Johnson also indicated that he sincerely hopes that the restrictions can be lifted enough for families to come together in time for Christmas but set no further details around that.
"I am very optimistic that this will feel better by next spring," he said, indicating no significant changes are to be expected until early 2021.
The latest lockdown plans will be tabled in Parliament next week for a debate and vote by Wednesday, for them to come in effect from Thursday.
The devolved administrations of the United Kingdom will continue to follow their own already strict lockdown policies, calling on residents to refrain from non-essential travels to and from England.
Wales is currently in a firebreak lockdown which is due to be in place until November 9 and Scotland's stringent four-tier system, with Tier 4 akin to a complete shutdown, is set to come into force from Monday.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, has been in complete lockdown since the middle of October, scheduled for a month.
The UK recorded another 21,915 confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 1,011,660.
Another 326 people were reported to have died within 28 days of a positive test this weekend, taking the death toll past 46,500.
Documents from the government's Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) revealed this week that England has breached its "reasonable worst-case" scenario for Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions for the winter months.
The scientists warned that the number of daily coronavirus deaths in England is in line with that scenario, but "is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks".
Infection rates are currently soaring across much of Europe, prompting new forms of lockdown across Germany, France and Belgium.