In a bid to contain a more contagious strain of coronavirus that is spreading rapidly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a new lockdown on England on Monday that will last until at least mid-February.
- Coronavirus is again surging in the U.K. because of a new, more transmissible mutation of Covid-19 called B.1.1.7.
- The lockdown will close most non-essential businesses, and restaurants will be required to limit service to takeout orders—but outdoor playgrounds and houses of worship will stay open as long as social distancing is maintained.
- Schools will be closed except to the children of essential workers and vulnerable students.
- Residents may not leave their homes except for essential work, essential shopping, medical assistance, exercise, as well as meeting with support or childcare “bubbles,” which are pairs of households allowed to mix under certain circumstances.
- Johnson’s announcement comes after Scotland imposed a similar lockdown earlier Monday.
“There’s no doubt in that fighting the old variant to the virus, our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work. But we now have a new variant, and it’s been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading,” Johnson said.
The number of patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, Johnson said, and the number of deaths has increased 20%. Though there isn’t any evidence the U.K. mutation is more deadly than previous strains, early research has suggested it’s 75% more contagious, making the virus harder to control even as England begins to vaccinate its population.
40%. That’s how many more patients are in hospitals now compared to the first peak earlier this year, Johnson said.
Unlike the previous lockdown, takeaway alcohol is banned this time around.