England is set to enter a second national lockdown next week in the face of surging coronavirus numbers, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening.
Everything except essential shops and education settings will be closed from Thursday November 5 until December 2. “From Thursday until the start of December you must stay at home,” Johnson told the nation in a special news bulletin on the BBC. Scotland and Wales had already introduced lockdowns in their countries.
In some positive news for workers, the government did announce today that its furlough scheme will be extended until December.
The latest measures mean that any cinemas, theaters and entertainment venues that weren’t already closed will now need to close. The government confirmed later in the evening that film and TV shoots will be able to continue.
On Twitter, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The changes mean people should WFH [work from home] where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & TV production, telecoms workers.”
He added that officials will be updating with more detail for specific sectors in coming days. But BFI CEO Ben Roberts confirmed: ”Covid-secure Film & TV production is permitted under the new guidelines.”
Meanwhile, the continuation of elite sports behind closed doors – including premier league soccer – is a win for broadcasters.
The number of daily UK cases reached 21,915 today with 326 deaths. Total deaths stand at 46,555.
Scientists on the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have told the government that COVID-19 is spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios and could kill 85,000 people this winter if no action is taken. One scientific model predicted that without urgent action the UK could register 4,000 deaths per day.
The UK this week became the eighth country to record one million total COVID cases since the outbreak began.
Johnson and his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, were expected to spend the weekend devising a strategy for the closures but in another embarrassing turn for this government, details of the lockdown had been leaked to media over the past 24 hours.