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Prime Minister announces month-long national lockdown

Viewpoint letters (June 20, 2019)

Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister has once again told England to stay at home as he announced a month-long lockdown for the country this evening (Saturday).

In a delayed speech alongside Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, Johnson said that bars and restaurants should close - but schools and universities will stay open - from Thursday. 

The four-week lockdown will see people only be allowed out of the house for specific reasons - education, work, exercise and recreation with one other person from another household, medical purposes, shopping or providing care for others.

The new rules will end on Wednesday, December 2.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues must also close, apart from click and collect. Food and drink takeaways and deliveries can also continue. 

Workplaces where employees cannot work from home - such as the construction industry - will continue to operate. 

PM Johnson said that vulnerable people will not be asked to shield, but urged these people to avoid contact with other people and work from home if they can. 

"I am under no illusions about how difficult this will be and I am truly sorry for that," Johnson said. 

"We know the impact these restrictions have on jobs, livelihoods and people's mental health.

"Nobody wants to be imposing these kind of measures anywhere.

"Our hope was that by strong local action, we could get the rates of infection down where the disease was surging.

"I want to thank the millions of people who have been putting up with restrictions in their areas.

"[But] in this country, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenarios of our scientific advisors.

"Now is the time to take action."

The furlough scheme - which has cost the Government billions paying the wages of workers - will be continued throughout November, he added.

Johnson will bring the changes to Parliament on Monday, before a debate will be held on Wednesday. If passed by MPs, Thursday, November 5 will be the first day of the new lockdown. 

"Our friends in Germany, France and Belgium have taken very similar action," he continued. 

He added that Christmas would be 'very different' this year, but was hopeful the situation would look better next year.

"I am optimistic this will feel very different and brighter by the spring," he said. 

The increase in the virus has seen the UK's total number of positive cases pass one million.

Johnson said that the Government hopes - in the next few days and weeks - to deploy 'quick turnaround tests'.

They could be used to test 'whole towns and even whole cities', added the PM, with the programme assisted by the military.

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