LONDON, ENGLAND – Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual briefing.
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England will adopt a second nationwide lockdown as coronavirus cases plague the UK, shutting down all non-essential businesses but leaving schools open for the next four weeks as it attempts to remove the virus, the virus said on Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
People will have to stay at home unless it is for essential reasons, including education, medical reasons or for shopping, Johnson said at a press conference in London. Pubs, bars and restaurants must close except for take out and delivery.
Some industries that cannot work from home, such as construction and manufacturing, will continue. The lockdown will take effect from Thursday and end on December 2, he said.
“Now is the time to act because there is no alternative,” Johnson said.
The move from Downing Street follows similar announcements from Germany and France this week, which also declared new lockdowns nationwide in a bid to take control of the spread of the worsening coronavirus Before the holidays.
UK reports more than 22,600 cases of Covid-19 on a weekly average – far higher than its first peak in spring when it reported an average of 4,800 new cases, according to CNBC analysis of compiled data by Johns Hopkins University. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland impose their own pandemic policies.
For weeks Johnson, who tested positive and was hospitalized himself with the coronavirus earlier this year, urged against the “misery of a national lockdown” and instead passed more localized restrictions.
England operates under a recently announced three-tier reopening system, which ranks regions based on the severity of their infection rate, with different levels of restrictions for each tier.
The World Health Organization warned in mid-October that epidemics in Europe were “worrying” as the number of available intensive care beds continued to decline. Now it looks like the level of hospitalizations and deaths in the UK could reach levels never seen before during the pandemic.
The government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance told Saturday’s press conference that predictive models suggest the number of Covid-19 deaths in the country could be “twice as bad or more” compared to to the first wave over the next few winter months.
Models suggest that if action is not taken, the UK’s National Health Service, or NHS, could surpass peak use in its hospitals by the end of November and additional bed capacity would be passed by December, Vallance said.
“We’re going to get over that, but we need to act now to contain this fall wave. We won’t go back to the full-scale March and April lockdown,” Johnson said. “The measures I have described are less prohibitive, less restrictive, but I fear that from Thursday the basic message will be the same: stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
London School of Hygiene epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of the government science advisory group, said on Saturday the cases were “significantly above” the worst-case scenario.
Correction: Measures announced by Prime Minister Johnson will end on December 2. An earlier version of this story distorted the date.