Amid the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus, England will return to a complete lockdown from Tuesday as the more transmissible variant fuels a surge of infections and hospitalisations across the country. Earlier, a stringent lockdown was placed in London.
“Since the pandemic began last year, the whole of the United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight COVID and there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts are working and would have continued to work. But we now have a new variant of the virus, and it has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during an address to the nation.
“Our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic. In England alone, the number of COVID patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 and that number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April,” he added.
Measures under the lockdown includes shutting of primary, secondary schools and colleges. The UK Prime Minister said that outdoor sports venues will have to close. But unlike spring’s lockdown, nurseries will not be shuttered, elite sports can go ahead, and places of worship will remain open on the basis that attendees adhere to social distancing rules.
Further, he said citizens may be permitted to leave home for limited reasons such as “shop for essentials, seek medical assistance or to escape domestic abuse”.
“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out. In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home,” he said.
The announcement for England follows Scotland‘s decision earlier Monday to go into lockdown. Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland, the other two nations of the United Kingdom, were already in lockdown.
The UK is back in crisis mode as new daily COVID-19 cases soared above 50,000 cases for nearly a week, and hospitalisations exceeded April’s peak.