Stay at home: England enters Covid Lockdown 2 until December 2
England went into its second lockdown of the year on Thursday after the House of Commons approved the legislation that mentions the period will end on December 2, but the Boris Johnson government has not ruled out extending it if necessary.
The basic message of the lockdown is to ‘stay at home’. Unlike the first lockdown that began on March 23, the second lockdown is likely to be enforced more vigorously by the police. Home secretary Priti Patel told the police they are expected to “strengthen enforcement”.
All non-essential shops will remain closed, with exemptions for groceries and takeaways. Schools and universities will remain open. People have been told to work home; those unable to do so will be allowed to travel. Financial support has been made available to those who have lost jobs and to struggling companies.
The House of Commons approved the second lockdown on Wednesday by 516 votes to 38 with the opposition Labour and other parties backing the move; 34 ruling Conservative MPs voted against the government motion. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are already under varying degrees of local lockdowns.
Johnson set out the reasons for the second lockdown in England in the House before voting, mentioning ever-rising number of cases and the challenges faced by the National Health Service to deal with Covid and non-Covid patients over the winter when caseload increases.
He said: “Of course, this is not something that any of us wanted to do. None of us came into politics to tell people once again to shutter their shops, to furlough their staff, or stay away from their friends and family. And I feel the pain and anxiety that we all share in the month ahead”.
“But as prime minister, when I am confronted with data that projects our NHS could even collapse, with deaths in this second wave potentially exceeding those of the first…I can reach only one conclusion: I am not prepared to take the risk with the lives of the British people”.
He told MPs that doctors and nurses could be forced to make impossible choices about which patients would live and would die, who would get oxygen and who could not, if the virus were not suppressed soon.
For the first time since June, the daily rise in deaths reached 492 on Wednesday evening across the UK, with 25,177 new cases.
Johnson said the aim is to make mass and repeated testing available for everyone across the country, adding that there is a genuine possibility of a safe and effective vaccine next year.
He said: “But while I am more optimistic now, more optimistic about the medium and long-term future than I have been for many months, there can be no doubt that the situation before us today is grave, and the need for action acute”.
“But, while it pains me to call for such restrictions on lives, liberty and business, I have no doubt that these restrictions represent the best and safest path for our country, our people and our economy,” he added.