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Boris Johnson announces third national lockdown

Boris Johnson has announced England will go into a national lockdown after the new Covid-19 variant has been spreading at an 'alarming' rate.

The Prime Minister addressed the country in a televised appearance to set out new Covid controls and said the country's hospitals are under more stress than any time during the pandemic.

Mr Johnson listed record after record being broken as the pandemic reached new devastating heights in England.

He went on to say England would go into a national lockdown that is tough enough the contain the new variant.

The government is now instructing the public to stay at home and only leave home for reasons permitted in law such as food shopping or exercise.

Outside exercise will still be permitted but outdoor team sports and games will not.

Schools in England will close from tomorrow with remote learning in place except for vulnerable children and those of key workers at least until the February half term.

Mr Johnson said there will be 'alternative arrangements' for exams which won't go ahead this year including GCSEs and A-Levels.

Shielding for the clinically vulnerable will also restart.

He said: “You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.”

He advised people to visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the full details of what people can and cannot do.

The Prime Minister outlined that he expected the lockdown to lift in mid-February as the vaccine continues to be rolled out.

He made the point that he expected that the key groups including care home residents and carers, other health and care staff, over 70s and the clinically vulnerable

Urging caution about the timetable, he said: “If our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically, once again, if the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful, if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect and – critically – if everyone plays their part by following the rules, then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers.”

He added that the UK has vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined.

Mr Johnson said that the weeks ahead would be the “hardest yet” but added that he believed the country was entering “the last phase of the struggle”.

Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday so MPs can debate the measures.

Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland would be going into a national lockdown from midnight tonight earlier in the day.

The UK's coronavirus threat level is being moved up to 5 - the highest level - when there is a risk of healthcare services being 'overwhelmed' and lockdown begins.

The new measures came after earlier today a No 10 spokesman said: “The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.

“The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”

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