Boris Johnson Confirms England’s Nationwide Lockdown Will End On December 2
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reiterated that England’s second lockdown will only last four weeks – despite experts and members of his own cabinet suggesting otherwise.
Only yesterday, November 1, did the PM’s own cabinet minister Michael Gove suggest that it could extend beyond a month, with the announced end date of December 2 serving as more of a ‘let’s see where we are by then’ review date.
As it stands, the R number is above one in ‘most parts of England’.
With all pubs, restaurants, gyms, and other places deemed ‘non-essential’ businesses set to close their doors by the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, November 4, the only places that will remain open as of Thursday will be essential businesses. These include supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries, as well as all levels of educational facilities, from nurseries through to universities.
At a press conference this afternoon, November 2, the PM insisted the second lockdown would only be for four weeks in order to get the infection rate – and, in turn, the death toll – down.
Johnson said, ‘Let me stress that these restrictions are time limited. After four weeks – on Wednesday, December 2 – they will expire and we intend to return to a tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.’
The prime minister added that Parliament will have a vote to agree on the best way forward for the country.
Johnson reiterated the new rules of what’s dubbed ‘lockdown 2’, by saying:
From Thursday, November 2, in England, people will only be able to leave their homes for specific reasons including: for education; for work if you cannot work from home; for exercise and recreation outdoors […]; for medical reasons; to escape injury and harm; to shop for food and essentials; and to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer.
Despite the scientific evidence suggesting another lockdown is required, Tory backbenchers remain divided over the decision due to the damage lockdown does to the economy.
Addressing this, Johnson said, ‘To those of you in the House who believe we shouldn’t go into a national lockdown, let me spell out the medical and moral disaster we face. If we allow our health system to be overwhelmed, exactly as our data system now suggests, this would not only be a disaster for thousands of COVID patients.’
Many, however, remain angry at Johnson for waiting so long to act, especially after recently mocking Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for suggesting the nation go into a lockdown for a period of a fortnight.
The hope is the R number – the rate of infection – falls significantly between now and the start of December, in order to avoid further anguish of an extension over Christmas itself.
The government has also announced a return of the furlough pay scheme that sees it pay 80% of the salary of those affected by lockdown closures.
In regards to a vaccine, Johnson said that England has a ‘real prospect’ of vaccine becoming available by the first quarter of 2021. He added that he believes the technical developments being made will ‘enable us to beat the virus by the spring’.
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