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'Stay at home': Johnson locks down England as UK COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

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'Stay at home': Johnson locks down England as UK COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

By Andrew MacAskill and Guy Faulconbridge



Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a press conference where he announces new restrictions to help combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain October 31, 2020. Alberto Pezzali/Pool via REUTERS


LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.


The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the "worst case" scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.


Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in after midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.


In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain's peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.


"We must act now," Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. "Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day."


The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay, he said.


Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said, and while elite sports will continue, amateur sports for adults and children will be asked to stop.


Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways, and outbound international travel will be discouraged except for work. All non-essential retail will close.


Places of worship will remain open for private prayer, though funerals will be limited to close family members only.


Johnson's imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.




The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.


Johnson was criticised by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalised in early April.


A national lockdown represents a dramatic change of policy for the prime minister, who has been saying for months that it will not be necessary.


Two weeks ago he defended his strategy of a patchwork of local restrictions by saying he wanted to avoid the "misery of a national lockdown". Currently, areas of England are subject to one of three tiers of coronavirus restrictions.


"I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring," Johnson said, adding that there was realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year.


Asked by reporters what took him so long to impose a national lockdown, Johnson said it was a constant struggle to balance the risk to life and the risk to livelihoods.


"We have to mindful the whole time of the scarring and the long-term economic impact of the measures," Johnson said. His medical adviser Whitty said that without the tougher measures then the National Health Service could be overwhelmed.


Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour leader, who called for a lockdown two weeks ago, said the delay introducing the restrictions will come "at an economic cost and a human cost".


Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposals on Wednesday.


The new lockdown will heap more pressure on finance minister Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England to increase their already huge support for the UK economy, the world's sixth-biggest. The economy slumped a record 20% in the spring.


So far, the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths - defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates puts the toll at 58,925.


The United Kingdom has the world's fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.


(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout, Kate Holton and William Schomberg; Editing by Frances Kerry, Kevin Liffey, Christina Fincher and Jonathan Oatis)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-11-01



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10 days ago when it was obvious that the covid situation in England was spiraling out of control Boris Johnson called Keir Starmers suggestion of a national lockdown 'the height of absurdity'. Th

Say what you will about Boris what he did takes courage he gained my respect good luck England 

Absolute economic terrorism.   I picked up 2 things from his speech.   1. They stated about 10 people were going into hospital per 100,000 in the 20-60 bracket. New York had publis

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As someone who is over 60 I took note of the possible death projections Chris Whittey gave in the briefing for my age group. For that reason alone I support the lockdown. As other have said, all political parties have wanted this lockdown. I am in a tier 1 area but others are not so lucky.


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New sites are saying that international travel is banned except for work.


I've got my flight booked on Qatar for 18 November on a Non-O with COE already issued and ASQ booked etc. I don't know if I'll be able to fly or not.


gov.uk says this


Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed- including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes.


A Non-O issues for the purpose of visiting family is not a tourist Visa. Do they class that as a "holiday" ?  Who would enforce that rule - airport check-in staff ? Someone else ?  I'm visiting for all of the initial 90 days and will definitely extend it in-country for 12 months and probably won't return until next summer.  Why would the UK government want to prevent me from going ?

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Funny that a team of whole footballers, subs, manager and support staff can meet in a small changing room and go home to their families , but the rest of the population can't meet up in such numbers

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