Britain's PM Announces Month-long Lockdown

Britain's PM Announces Month-long Lockdown
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a press conference where he announces new restrictions to help combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, on Oct. 31, 2020. (Alberto Pezzali/Pool via Reuters)
Alexander Zhang

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second national lockdown for England in an attempt to stem the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

From Thursday, all non-essential shops and hospitality will have to close for a month, though schools, colleges, and universities will remain open, Johnson said at a press conference in Downing Street on Saturday evening.

The new national restrictions will come into effect on Thursday, lasting until the beginning of December.

A man crosses the road in the City of London financial district amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, UK, on Sept. 23, 2020. (John Sibley/Reuters)
A man crosses the road in the City of London financial district amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, UK, on Sept. 23, 2020. (John Sibley/Reuters)

“In this country, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable, worst-case scenario of our scientific advisors, whose models as you've just seen now suggests that unless we act, we could see death in this country running at several thousand a day, a peak of mortality bigger than the one we saw in April,” Johnson said after England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance gave their updates on the pandemic.

“Now is the time to take action, because there is no alternative,” he said, before laying out the new rules to the nation.

Under the new restrictions, people must stay home and may only leave home for specific reasons, including for education, for work (if one cannot work from home), for exercise and recreation outdoors, for medical reasons, to shop for food and essentials, and to care for others.

Non-essential shops, leisure, and entertainment venues will all be closed, though click & collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open.

Pubs, bars, restaurants must close, except for takeaway and delivery services. But workplaces where people can't work from home, such as firms in the construction and manufacturing sectors, should stay open.

Unlike in the first national lockdown, schools, colleges, and universities will be allowed to stay open. "We cannot let this virus damage our children's futures even more than it has already," said the prime minister.

Johnson said he will set out the government’s plans to Parliament on Monday, and MPs will debate and vote on these measures on Wednesday. If passed, the restrictions will come into force on Thursday.

A national lockdown will represent a dramatic change of policy for the prime minister, who has been saying for months that it will not be necessary.

Johnson announced a three-tiered system of restrictions on Oct. 12, and repeatedly rejected Labour’s call for an immediate 2-to-3-week-long national lockdown, saying he wanted to avoid the "misery of a national lockdown."

But the government's scientific advisers say COVID-19 infections are rising so fast that, unless the spread can be slowed, hospitals will be overwhelmed and their "reasonable worst case" scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown.

Other parts of the UK set their own public health measures. In Scotland, millions of people are banned from socialising indoors or drinking in pubs, and are subject to travel restrictions.

Wales is in the middle of a two-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown in which everybody apart from essential workers must generally stay at home. Northern Ireland closed schools for two weeks and restaurants for four weeks from Oct. 16.

Reuters contributed to this report.