England’s third national lockdown, enacted to try to stem the spread of the CCP virus, has legally come into force.
Members of Parliament will later today vote retroactively on primary legislation that will carry the new rules—which have been temporarily enacted under secondary powers by the government—until the end of March.
Under the new curbs, people have to stay at home, allowed out only for “essential” reasons, which includes one period of outdoor exercise.
People are not allowed to meet more than one other person from another household outside for their period of exercise and are not permitted to sit and chat on park benches.
Like the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, people can leave their homes for essential medical needs, food shopping, and work (if it cannot be done from home).
Outdoor sports venues must close, but, unlike the first lockdown, playgrounds will remain open.
Schools and colleges have been shut as part of the new measures, which were announced in a last-minute U-turn by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday evening, the day that many pupils had already returned from Christmas break.
The government was able to use limited powers to bring the new rules into force today. In theory, the new rules could be overturned by Parliament, which is being recalled from its Christmas break for the second time to solidify the rules into primary legislation.
However, with Labour Party whips siding with the Conservative government, any rebels voting against party lines are not expected to be able to derail the vote.
Explaining the rationale for the second lockdown, the prime minister and scientific advisers to the government cited the latest data on infections in the UK from a national swab test survey.
That data, published by the Office for National Statistics, shows that on average one in 50 people have the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in England, with around one in 30 for London, where infections have been rising fastest.
So far, 1.3 million people in the UK have been vaccinated against the virus, according to the government.
The lockdown announcement came on the day that the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine started in the UK. The government has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine—enough to potentially inoculate the whole country.
Johnson laid the blame for the failure of previous measures on the emergence of a new CCP virus variant, which he said has a 50 to 70 percent faster rate of transmission.
“With most of the country under extreme measures, it’s clear we need to do more together to bring it under control while our vaccines are rolled out,” Johnson told the nation in a televised address on Jan. 4. “In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.”