Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, has announced a four-week national lockdown in England as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown will take effect from November 5 and last till the first week of December.
Speaking at a press conference held on Saturday, the prime minister said residents may only leave home for “specific reasons”, while schools will remain open.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative. From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home,” he said.
“You may only leave home for specific reasons, including: For education; for work, say if you cannot work from home; for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own with one person from another household; for medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; to shop for food and essentials; and to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.
“I’m afraid non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed – though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up.
“Pubs, bars, restaurants must close except for takeaway and delivery services.
“Workplaces should stay open where people can’t work from home – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors. Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household, and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.
“If you are clinically vulnerable, or over the age of 60, you should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others.”
The prime minister added that the government will provide support for individuals and businesses that will be most affected by the lockdown.
“I am under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure hardship this year. I am truly, truly sorry for that,” Johnson said.
“This is why we are also going to extend the furlough system through November. The furlough scheme was a success in the spring. It supported people and businesses in a critical time. We will not end it. We will extend it until December.
“Christmas is going to be different this year, very different, but it is my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together.
“My priority, our priority, remains keeping people in education — so childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. Our senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be.
“We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already. I urge parents to continue taking their children to school and I am extremely grateful to teachers across the country for their dedication in enabling schools to remain open..
As of October 31, the UK had confirmed over one million COVID-19 cases, out of which almost 47,000 deaths have been recorded.