UK PM imposes nation-wide lockdown amid increase in infections

Alarmed with the surge in infections and hospitalizations due to the more transmissible variant of COVID-19 across the United Kingdom, PM Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a lockdown across the country to contain the spread of the deadly virus. “Since the pandemic began last year, the whole of United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight COVID and there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts are working and would have continued to work. But we now have a new variant of the virus, and it has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading,” Johnson said during an address to the nation.

The announcement for England follows an announcement earlier Monday that Scotland would go into lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland, the other two nations of the United Kingdom, were already in lockdown.

Giving a realistic picture on vaccination by the National Health Service (NHS), he said: “By the middle of February if things go well, and with a wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation.”

Johnson said that citizens may be permitted to leave home for limited reasons such as “shop for essentials, seek medical assistance or to escape domestic abuse”.

He announced that primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges across England will move to remote permit provision starting Tuesday, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. The UK Prime Minister said that outdoor sports venues will have to close. But unlike spring’s lockdown, nurseries will not be shuttered, elite sports can go ahead, and places of worship will remain open on the basis that attendees adhere to social distancing rules.

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