08:25PM, Monday 04 January 2021
Boris Johnson has announced that England will enter another national lockdown and schools will switch to remote learning for the majority of pupils.
Starting immediately he has urged everyone to 'Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives', with the changes coming into law on Wednesday.
Like the first lockdown, everyone should only go out for a limited set of reasons, including to shop for essential items, to go to work if unable to work from home, for exercise, for medical reasons and to escape domestic abuse.
The clinically vulnerable are being advised to start shielding again.
In an address to the nation this evening, the prime minister said that tough new measures were needed to help combat the spread of coronavirus, after a surge in cases.
Schools are set to close their doors for everyone except vulnerable children and the children of key workers, with all other students moving to remote learning. Early years settings, such as nurseries, will remain open.
For students sitting exams this year, exam dates will be reconsidered.
It is hoped that pupils may be able to return to school after the February half-term. In the meantime those receiving free school meals will continue to receive them.
The new strain of COVID-19 is more infectious than the last - about 50-70 per cent more transmissible, said the PM.
Cases of COVID-19 deaths have risen by 20 per cent in the last week and the number of people in hospital has increased by a third, to 40 per cent higher than it was in April's peak.
If it continues, the NHS could be overwhelmed in 21 days, the prime minister said.
However, vaccines are being rolled out at an accelerated rate and the Government is aiming to have given the first vaccination to everyone in the top four highest priority groups by mid-February.
This includes all care home residents and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline key workers and everyone who is clinically vulnerable.
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