Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, reimposed strict lockdown restrictions in the country on Monday as a more contagious variant of coronavirus fuels a rapid surge in infections and hospitalizations in England. Johnson states that it is clear that his administration needs to do more to bring this new variant of the virus under control. It means the administration is once again instructing the nation to stay at home.
During the televised address of Johnson to the nation, he once again announces lockdown measures as observed during the first lockdown last spring, including closings of primary and secondary schools to all, except the children of key workers. Furthermore, he adds that it will not be possible for all examinations to proceed this summer as normal. Lockdown in the country will only allow people to leave their homes for limited and necessary reasons such as shopping for essentials, medical assistance, and exercise.
In addition, Johnson said that citizens could still leave home to escape domestic abuse. This issue arose earlier during the start of the pandemic, as isolation and lockdown conditions worsened barriers to escape for sufferers of domestic violence. International exits are now limited to those who have a legally permitted reason like work. On the other side, outdoor sports venues will have to close. However, unlike the lockdown of springs, nurseries will not be closed, elite sports can go ahead. Similarly, worship places will remain open on the basis that attendees will observe social distancing rules.
Duration of Lockdown in the United Kingdom
The lockdown restrictions in the country expected to remain in place at least through the middle of February 2021. Johnson’s announcement follows the lockdown announcement of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Northern Ireland and Wales – the other countries of the United Kingdom are already in lockdown. England is back in crisis mode as new daily coronavirus cases raise more than fifty thousand for almost a week. Similarly, the number of hospitalizations exceeds the peak of April.
According to the U.K. Prime Minister, there were thirty percent more coronavirus patients in hospitals in England on Monday than a week earlier. Moreover, the health ministry said that the country would move to the highest coronavirus alert level, reflecting concern that the soaring number of hospitalizations could devastate the National Health Service (NHS) of the country in coming weeks.
The Chief Medical Officers of the U.K stated on Monday that several parts of the health systems in the four countries are already under immense pressure. At present, there are very high rates of community transmission, with a large number of coronavirus patients in hospitals and intensive care units. UK Chief Medical Officers says that they are unsure that the NHS can handle the further increase in cases, and without further action, there is a material risk of the NHS in many areas that overwhelm over the following twenty-one days.
The United Kingdom is hoping for a way out of this disaster through its coronavirus vaccination program. The country started its vaccination program last month. Still, the nation is a long way from vaccinating the millions of people in the top priority groups mentioned by the prime minister, including people over the age of seventy, all frontline health workers, and everyone who is clinically vulnerable.
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According to a government press release, Johnson suggests those groups expected to offer their first doses by mid-February. However, since December starting, when the United Kingdom became the first globally to administer the clinically approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, more than one million people received the vaccination. On Monday, the initial doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine administered in the United Kingdom.
The announcement of Johnson follows rising calls from public health experts, lawmakers, and teachers’ unions for a stricter lockdown in the country. Teachers’ unions in the country criticized the chaotic reopening of schools this week, while the rate of infection is so high in the country and exposes education sector workers to serious risk of contraction with the virus, which may fuel the pandemic.
Students in the country were due to return to school on Monday after the Christmas break. However, in less than a week, the government announced the delay in the reopening of the schools by two weeks for almost all high-schoolers and elementary school children. However, students will continue their education in online classes.
The shadow foreign secretary from the Labour Party, Lisa Nandy, tweets that this is beyond chaos. How can learning go online instantly when teachers settle to spend the last fifteen days planning to reopen schools? Further, she adds that what will replace exams.
This is beyond chaos. How can learning go online tomorrow when teachers were told to spend the last two weeks planning for reopening? What will replace exams? And since the PM was told by SAGE that this would almost certainly be necessary on 22 December why is he so unprepared?
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) January 4, 2021