Full lockdown imposed in England as coronavirus cases surgeLast updated on Jan 05, 2021, 08:36 pm
England's 56 million people were ordered to stay at home by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, as the United Kingdom struggles to contain a new variant of coronavirus.
Addressing the nation from Downing Street, the leader of the Conservative Party said the coming weeks will be the "toughest."
The restrictions will come into effect starting Wednesday.
Here are more details.
All schools will stay shut, non-essential shops closed down
In a televised address, the PM said the new variant was spreading at an alarming rate, which made this lockdown necessary.
Stressing on "stay at home," a grim-faced Johnson said all primary and secondary schools will stay closed. People were asked not to venture out until absolutely unavoidable.
All non-essential shops were asked to shut down on Monday night itself.
Understand the distress this will cause parents and pupils: Johnson
Just a day earlier, millions of pupils were urged by Johnson to return to classrooms. But in the 8 pm speech, he requested students to switch to online learning until at least February half-term.
Saying that it was obvious parents would ask why this decision wasn't taken sooner, he claimed that he understood the "inconvenience and distress this late change" would cause.
PM admitted new cases were overwhelming beleaguered hospitals
Any relaxation linked to the lockdown, the toughest since March 2020, will not be revoked before February 22, reports The Guardian.
Johnson added that the hospitals continue to deal with a catastrophic rise in cases.
In the last seven days, the country reported over 50,000 new cases daily, taking its tally to 2,713,563. So far, 75,431 people have died of coronavirus-linked complications.
England's coronavirus figure worse than April 2020 peak
Johnson said in the war against coronavirus, the hospitals never felt so much pressure as they are experiencing now.
"In England alone, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000," he told the nation.
This figure, he disclosed, was 40% higher than the first peak in April 2020.
'We must go into national lockdown'
"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," the PM announced.
He believes the fight has entered the last stage
Further, Johnson said he believed the fight against the "pandemic is in its last phase."
"With every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against COVID-19 and in favor of the British people," he said.
The vaccination drive began last month with Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine. The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, has also been given approval in the UK.
Meanwhile, Scots also ordered to 'stay at home'
Notably, Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland said the country has entered level five in coronavirus battle just before Johnson made the announcement.
Level five implies that healthcare services will be overwhelmed under 21 days if no action is taken.
In Wales, schools moved to online learning. Meanwhile, in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a lockdown from Tuesday.