Covid: New national lockdown in England expected to be announced by Boris Johnson in TV address tonight
Watch ITV News special coverage of the prime minister's address
UPDATE: Boris Johnson has announced a new lockdown for England. Read the latest details here.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new national lockdown in England, with a televised coronavirus update scheduled for 8pm this evening.
ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said: "PM is addressing nation at 8 tonight. Parliament to be recalled Wednesday. Tough national lockdown to be announced."
A Number 10 spokesperson 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.
"He will set those out this evening."
The lockdown will see all of England put into Tier 4, says Peston, with restrictions tightened to force the closure of schools and the banning of outdoor team games, however outdoor exercise will still be permitted.
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It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland will be placed into lockdown from midnight, with a legal requirement to stay at home throughout January.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said on Sunday that schools should remain open in a new national lockdown, told ITV News that he now believes they should close.
He said: "It is sadly, tragically inevitable that schools will have to close and therefore they should be part of the national restrictions that come into force".
ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston explains what we could expect to hear from the PM tonight
Sir Keir said a national restrictions "need to be put in place as soon as possible" and the country needs to "go back to the spirit of March, of stay at home".
The Labour leader is urging the government to reimpose stay at home advice, and close all non-essential businesses.
The PM's announcement will be followed by the recall of Parliament on Wednesday, which will allow MPs to debate the measures.
Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has urged MPs not to come to Parliament unless absolutely necessary in a safety warning for when they debate new coronavirus restrictions.
Sir Lindsay said he agrees it is in the public interest to resume proceedings a day early but issued a warning to MPs to stay away and participate virtually.
Prime Minister Johnson earlier said rising rates of Covid-19 throughout the UK meant "tougher measures" would be needed to bring down virus prevalence.
He said there are "tough, tough" weeks to come in the UK's battle with coronavirus.
Health experts are increasingly concerned about two new, fast-spreading variants of the virus - one which was first identified in the UK and another from South Africa.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is "very worried" about the South African variant and that the country should keep an "eagle eye" on it.
The new variant is deemed to be more transmissible than the UK one, which was already classed as being more prolific than the original coronavirus.
In order to stop the spread of the South African variant, flights to the UK from the country have already been banned.
It is not yet clear whether newly-approved coronavirus vaccines will have an effect on new variants of the virus.
Sir Keir told ITV News that a wartime spirit was needed to deploy millions of doses of vaccines, including the Government working with the Opposition.
"This has to be a national mission," he said. "It's one of the biggest operations we have done since the Second World War, we all need to play our part.
"I have offered my support to the Government, I do so again and I think the Government should pull everybody into this because this is the light at the end of the tunnel."
This evening's update follows the release of some worrying coronavirus statistics on Sunday, which showed more than 50,000 people had tested positive for Covid-19 for the sixth day in a row.