Published: 08:34 GMT, 5 January 2021 | Updated: 11:38 GMT, 5 January 2021

England will be put into a full national lockdown that will last until the February half term. 

There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. 

They should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home.  The guidance says you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

Michael Gove today delivered a stark warning that lockdown will only start to be lifted gradually in March – and that timeline depends on the government meeting its highly ambitious targets for vaccination.

The Cabinet Office minister admitted there was no ‘certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson on England last night will be eased at the end of February as hoped.

The PM set a goal of giving first doses of vaccine to more than 13million vulnerable people over the next seven weeks, with doubts already voiced over whether it is possible. 

But Mr Gove cautioned that even in the best case scenario not ‘all’ of the curbs will go, as he braced the weary public for a long haul to combat the fast-spreading new variant of coronavirus.

In a round of interviews, Mr Gove said a review of the situation would happen in the February half-term.

‘We hope we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that but what I can’t do is predict – nobody can predict – with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when,’ he told Sky News.

‘What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination programme, the more people who are protected in that way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions.’

The heavy caveats came as Labour swiped that the PM had ‘over-promised’ about the vaccine hopes when made another extraordinary U-turn by plunging the country into a March-style lockdown, saying the NHS risked being overrun within weeks if he failed to act.   

Just a day after he urged parents to send their children back, Mr Johnson declared in a sombre address from No10 that primary and secondary schools will be shut from today, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in.

Nurseries can stay open. But university students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead as planned. 

Teenagers might not know for weeks how their exams will be replaced, with Ofsted expected to launch a consultation, although government sources said some ‘contingency’ plans had already been considered. 

Under the the new guidance, published overnight, non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools will be ordered to close – with Rishi Sunak due to lay out another package of support today amid growing fears about the impact on the economy. 

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible.  

The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help or flee threat such as domestic violence.

Those who break the rules face a £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

The extraordinary third national squeeze will come into effect in the early hours of Wednesday after the regulations are laid today, but Mr Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now. MPs will get a vote on them on Wednesday when Parliament is recalled. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the crackdown was ‘essential’ and his MPs will support them, effectively guaranteeing their approval in the Commons. But he criticised the government for not changing course sooner and expressed serious doubts about the optimism over distributing vaccines.  

‘The prime minister said seven weeks – that’s to allow the vaccination programme to be rolled out for 13 to 14million people,’ Sir Keir said. 

‘That’s the ambition of the prime minister. I hope he is not over-promising. It’s going to be a struggle and we need to make this work.’

Senior Tory MPs had joined the Opposition in calling for the introduction of another national lockdown. But the idea of hardening the restrictions sparked fury from other Conservatives, who insist the country’s experience of the pandemic shows that lockdowns do not work and are crippling the economy. 

There are claims that at least two MPs have now sent letters of no confidence in the PM to Conservative backbench chief Sir Graham Brady – although the numbers are nowhere near the threshold to put his position in doubt. 

With his hands clasped together and seated behind a desk in Downing Street last night, Mr Johnson made clear there is no chance of them being lifted for at least seven weeks – and possibly longer if the vaccine rollout does not go well.

‘Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic. It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.

He said it would not be ‘possible or fair’ for exams to go ahead this summer as normal.

‘The weeks ahead will be the hardest but I really do believe that we are reaching the end of the struggle,’ he said, pledging that by mid-February the top four categories on the vaccine distribution list will have had their first jabs. 

There are 13.2million people in the top four groups on the vaccination list – care home residents and the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers, the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable. 

But the Prime Minister admitted that he could only give assurance that the situation will improve assuming that ‘our understanding of the virus does not change again’.  

He said: ‘By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

‘That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.

‘And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.’ 

Mr Johnson said he was left with no option after being confronted with catastrophic figures about the burden on the NHS by science chiefs today. 

Hospital patients with coronavirus had risen by 40 per cent over a week, and are now higher than at the peak of the first wave.  

Downing Street issued a series of slides showing the problem the country faces due to the new variant of the virus – the evidence that apparently forced Mr Johnson into his latest extraordinary U-turn

Hundreds of thousands of non-essential retailers will have to keep their doors closed under England’s third nation-wide lockdown

Michael Gove (left) admitted there was no ‘certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson (pictured right after his run this morning) will be eased at the end of February as hoped

Cases caused by the new, more infectious variant of Covid-19 are surging rapidly in every part of the country. In the past week they have gone up by 30 per cent, and the number is 40 per cent higher than the peak of the first wave in April. Medical experts have warned the NHS could be overwhelmed in 21 days unless action is taken.

The mixing of households indoors is not allowed outside of support bubbles. You can meet one other person outside your household for outdoor exercise.

The support bubble system – where a person living alone can pair with another household – can continue. Childcare support bubbles are also still allowed.

Yes. All primary and secondary schools and colleges have to close and switch to online learning, except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable. Universities must also stay closed. Early years providers, such as nurseries, and special schools can stay open.

Boris Johnson said it would not be possible, or fair, for all exams to go ahead as normal this summer. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will work to put alternative arrangements in place.

You can exercise outdoors with your household, your support bubble or alone with one other person from another household. Exercise should be limited to once a day and should be local, meaning you should not drive to a beauty spot.

Not for eating inside, but cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can serve takeaway food and non-alcoholic drinks until 11pm.

Only if you ‘absolutely cannot’ work from home. This means the construction industry can continue and key workers can continue to go to work.

Only in exceptional circumstances, for example in cases where people are dying or have debilitating conditions.

Yes. Those who are clinically vulnerable and who were previously told to shield should stay at home and leave only for medical appointments or exercise. They will receive a letter shortly informing them about this.

Travel is allowed only for essential work, shopping for necessities, exercise, caring for the vulnerable and medical reasons.

Food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences are allowed to remain open, along with market stalls selling essential retail.

Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals can stay open, along with animal rescue centres

Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas, along with outdoor playgrounds, outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise can stay open 

Rishi Sunak today announced another £4.6billion of bailouts for lockdown-stricken businesses as economists warned of the ‘colossal’ hit from the surging pandemic.

The Chancellor declared that venues hammered by Boris Johnson’s dramatic decision will get one-off grants of up to £9,000 to keep them afloat over the next seven weeks.

Some 600,000 premises across the UK are set to receive the cash, while another £594million is being pumped into a ‘discretionary fund’ to support other firms affected.

Mr Sunak also pointedly refused to rule out extending the massive furlough scheme again beyond the end of April, merely saying he would ‘take stock’ at the Budget in March.

However, businesses warned that the package is not enough, amid pressure for VAT and rates relief to be kept in place to stop a wave of bankruptcies.  

The latest huge intervention came amid fears that the lockdown will slash GDP by up to 10 per cent in every month it is imposed – although the respected IFS think-tank said this morning that the impact might be lower as businesses have adapted since the first squeeze in March.

It will also raise alarm at the state of the government’s finances, with IFS director Paul Johnson saying the scale of the economic damage was the worst ‘in the whole of history’. Public sector borrowing could hit £400billion this year, with Mr Sunak already having warned of a reckoning later to balance the books.

In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said the previous tiers would have been enough to cope with Covid as it was originally, but the new variant – which is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more transmissible – was spreading in a ‘frustrating and alarming’ manner.

‘As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,’ he said.

Mr Johnson said that in England the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 – some 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.

On December 29 ‘more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK’, the number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week ‘and will sadly rise further’.

‘With most of the country, or maybe under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.

‘In England we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.’

‘The answer is simply that we’ve been doing everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances,’ he said.

‘And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children. Children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.

‘The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.’

Mr Johnson said the move on schools means ‘it’s not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer, as normal’.

The PM added: ‘We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we will distribute more devices to support remote education.’

The premier suggested England could ‘steadily’ move out of lockdown from mid-February – but he heavily caveated his optimism, in a sign that the crisis could drag on much longer.

‘If our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically, once again, if the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful, if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect and – critically – if everyone plays their part by following the rules, then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers,’ Mr Johnson said.

‘I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.

‘And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted. So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.’

He rounded off his downbeat address by repeating the mantra from the first lockdown, ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.

‘I want to say to everyone right across the UK that I know how tough this is,’ he said.

‘And I know how frustrated you are and I know that you have had more than enough of Government guidance about defeating this virus.

He warned that ‘the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet’ but ‘with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people’.

‘Thanks to the miracle of science not only is the end in sight but we know exactly how we will get there.’

Despite the ferocity of the new measures, scientists warned they still might not be enough to control the Covid variant. 

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the move ‘will clearly save tens of thousands of lives’.

But he added: ‘The threat we’re facing is at least as bad as we were back in March.

‘I think the virus is different and it may be that the lockdown measures we had are not enough so we need to learn from the new insights and new technologies, we need to learn from the last lockdown and particularly some of the things we saw.

‘I think this time round we really need to use this lockdown to bear down on the virus in a way that can protect key workers – for example, we could be using the lateral flow (tests) and working with employers to offer regular testing to key workers.’

Meanwhile, police warned that enforcing the new national lockdown would put ‘a lot of pressure’ on officers whose numbers are already reduced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation – which represents front line officers in London, said some 1,300 were off sick or self-isolating in the capital.

His counterpart nationally, John Apter, wrote in the Daily Telegraph some forces were reporting 15 per cent of their staff off sick or self-isolating.

Rishi Sunak today announced another £4.6billion of bailouts for lockdown-stricken businesses as economists warned of the ‘colossal’ hit from the surging pandemic.

The Chancellor declared that venues hammered by Boris Johnson’s dramatic decision will get one-off grants of up to £9,000 to keep them afloat over the next seven weeks.

Some 600,000 premises across the UK are set to receive the cash, while another £594million is being pumped into a ‘discretionary fund’ to support other firms affected.

Mr Sunak also pointedly refused to rule out extending the massive furlough scheme again beyond the end of April, merely saying he would ‘take stock’ at the Budget in March.

However, businesses warned that the package is not enough, amid pressure for VAT and rates relief to be kept in place to stop a wave of bankruptcies.  

The latest huge intervention came amid fears that the lockdown will slash GDP by up to 10 per cent in every month it is imposed – although the respected IFS think-tank said this morning that the impact might be lower as businesses have adapted since the first squeeze in March.

It will also raise alarm at the state of the government’s finances, with IFS director Paul Johnson saying the scale of the economic damage was the worst ‘in the whole of history’. Public sector borrowing could hit £400billion this year, with Mr Sunak already having warned of a reckoning later to balance the books.

Mr Marsh urged the Government to place police officers on a priority list to receive coronavirus vaccines, saying requests to the Government so far were ‘falling on deaf ears’.

Businesses voiced dismay at the new clampdown that threatens to wreak more havoc on the economy. 

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: ‘Businesses will understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on the spiralling threat to public health, but they will be baffled and disappointed by the fact that he did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.’

Asked about how lockdown enforcement would affect officers, Mr Marsh said: ‘It will obviously create a lot of pressure on us because we have a lot more officers off this time than we did back in March.

‘Our numbers have rocketed in terms of officers with Covid and officers isolating and we envisage that getting worse.

‘So the pressure is on my colleagues who are still out there to maintain the same level that they did before.’

Commenting on getting officers access to vaccines, he claimed: ‘It would appear that policing has been airbrushed out of any conversation in relation to protecting my colleagues, which I find quite incredible considering they are on the front line.

‘They are the one group of people other than the National Health Service that actually have to go to work and have to be out there with the public, every day, 24 hours a day.

Mr Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has called for officers to be prioritised after society’s most vulnerable groups and NHS workers have been given the jab.

He wrote in the Telegraph: ‘Without the vaccine, there is a real danger that more officers will contract the virus.

‘As growing numbers self-isolate or report sick with the virus, then the police service begins to struggle to do what the public fully expects of it.

‘Some forces are already starting to report up to 15% of their officers off sick or self-isolating. This is getting worse and is simply not sustainable.’

Mr Apter, whose organisation represents 130,000 officers, said the ‘last thing the public want is to call 999 in their hour of need, only to find we are too short of officers to be able to respond’.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘A third lockdown is yet another blow to our sector. Particularly after it has faced an abysmally quiet Christmas and New Year’s, which saw many pubs remain closed over what is meant to be their busiest time of the year.

‘The announcement today adds to the woes of pubs as it shows they are a long way from reopening properly. The road to recovery for the pub sector just got longer.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Government should have gone further by extending the rules on wearing face masks to cover busy outdoor areas and toughening up controls at the borders.

The latest infection tally meant the UK has passed the milestone of 50,000 infections every day for a week, suggesting that the easing of restrictions at Christmas helped fuel the outbreak.

Department of Health chiefs also posted 407 more deaths, up just 14 per cent on the figure recorded last week. 

But it can take infected patients several weeks to fall severely ill and succumb to the illness, meaning fatalities have yet to reach their peak and will continue to rise. 

The UK recorded almost 1,000 deaths twice last week, in grisly tolls not seen since the darkest days of the spring.

Nicola Sturgeon announced a drastic crackdown in the Scottish Parliament on Monday afternoon, with a legally-enforced stay at home order from midnight and schools north of the border set to stay closed until February. 

Mr Johnson confirmed yesterday morning that ‘tougher’ measures were coming despite the optimism sparked by the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses being administered – although at that point he appeared to hint he would prefer to stick with the Tier system in England. 

Streets and city centres were quiet as Britons digested the new restrictions being placed on their lives. PIctured, Waterloo station in London

Traffic was relatively light in many parts of London this morning, although the new rules have yet to come into force legally. Pictured, the A40 Marylebone flyover heading into central London

Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (excluding rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. (These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect off-premises, and delivery services).

Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs (they can remain open for takeaway and delivery of food and non-alcoholic drinks).   

Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts,fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.

Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks

Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, stately homes and landmarks –  though outdoor grounds can stay open for exercise.

Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. They can also not be done in private homes.

SAGE had cautioned that it is probably impossible to control the new coronavirus variant while they remain open – although experts say a total shutdown still might not be enough to bring the ‘R’ reproduction rate below one.   

Michael Gove held a conference call with the First Ministers from the four nations to coordinate strategies. But in a sign of splits, Wales has said it will push ahead with reopening schools over the next fortnight unless there is new evidence about the variant strain.

Earlier, ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt joined demands from Labour and Tory MPs for an immediate national squeeze with schools and borders shut and a ban on all household mixing.

Mr Hunt warned that mutant Covid has put the NHS under ‘off the scale’ pressure compared to normal winters and the government ‘cannot afford to wait’ even one more day.

Mr Hunt posted on Twitter: ‘To those arguing winter is always like this in the NHS: you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as Health Sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those.’

Mr Hunt said the ‘No1 lesson’ from the pandemic is that countries can ‘save lives and get their economies back to normal faster’ if they ‘act early and decisively’.

‘We therefore cannot afford to wait: all schools should be closed, international travel stopped, household mixing limited and the tier system reviewed so that the highest tier really does bring down infection levels,’ Mr Hunt said.   

‘The good news is that unlike before these restrictions will be time limited to the 12 weeks or so it will take to get the vaccine out to those most vulnerable to covid – so there is light at the end of the tunnel.’ 

Mr Hunt was among a growing band of Conservative MPs, including ex-No10 adviser Neil O’Brien, urging emergency steps to tackle the coronavirus surge. 

Labour has also been pushing for a squeeze, with Sadiq Khan saying Mr Hunt was ‘spot on’. 

Earlier Matt Hancock suggested the first step will be to escalate even more of the country into Tier 4, saying Tier 3 did not seem able to hold back the more infectious version of the deadly disease.

He insisted the problem was partly down to people failing to obey the rules, amid calls from some MPs for police to be given more powers.  

But there were questions about how much more impact extending the coverage of Tier 4 could have, given three-quarters of England is already subject to the harshest bracket, where only essential shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people are meant to stay at home. 

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England (PHE), said the latest daily figures were a ‘bitter warning’ about the threat.

‘Since the pandemic began last year, the whole United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight Covid.

‘And there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work.

‘But we now have a new variant of the virus. It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading.

‘Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50% and 70% more transmissible – that means you are much, much more likely to catch the virus and to pass it on.

‘As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

‘In England alone, the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000.

‘That number is 40% higher than the first peak in April. On 29 December, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record.

‘The number of deaths is up by 20% over the last week and will sadly rise further. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones.

‘With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.

‘In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.

‘You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.

‘If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you.

‘And because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

‘We recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal. The Education Secretary will work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements.

‘We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we’ll distribute more devices to support remote education.

‘I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country.

‘Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner.

‘The answer is simply that we have been doing everything in our power to keep schools open, because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances.

‘And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.

‘The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.

‘Today the United Kingdom’s chief medical officers have advised that the country should move to alert level 5, meaning that if action is not taken NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days.

‘Of course, there is one huge difference compared to last year. We are now rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history.

‘So far, we in the UK have vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined.

‘With the arrival today of the UK’s own Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, the pace of vaccination is accelerating.

‘I can share with you tonight the NHS’s realistic expectations for the vaccination programme in the coming weeks.

‘By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

‘That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

‘If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.

‘And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.

‘I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.

‘And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted. So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.

‘Then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half-term and starting, cautiously, to move regions down the tiers.

‘I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus.

‘You should follow the new rules from now, and they will become law in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Parliament will meet – largely remotely – later that day.

‘I know that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland share my conviction this is a pivotal moment and they’re taking similar steps.

‘The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle.

‘Because with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people.

‘And, thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight and we know exactly how we will get there.

‘But for now, I am afraid, you must once again stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Boris Johnson plunged the country into a third national lockdown ordering everyone to work from home if they can.

However, the criteria on who can stay out of the office has caused some confusion with the exception applying only to people who ‘absolutely cannot work from home’.

The Government’s official website states this category includes – but is not limited to – ‘people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance’.

Roles such as these – which include water service and telecoms workers – are ‘essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers’, guidance states.

Those working in childcare or education are deemed to be providing an essential service, meaning they should continue to go into work.

People who need to work in others’ homes – such as nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – are also able to do so.

To facilitate working from home, employees are encouraged to provide both IT equipment and the services to enable remote working.

Those who are out of the house without a ‘reasonable excuse’ – including those who are working outside when it is not essential – can be slapped with a £200 fine.

‘The continuous rise in cases and deaths should be a bitter warning for us all. We must not forget the basics – the lives of our friends and family depend on it,’ she said. 

Speaking during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London yesterday morning, Mr Johnson warned of ‘tough tough’ weeks to come. 

He added: ‘If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.’ 

Mr Johnson tried to strike a positive note, promising there will be a ‘massive ramp up’ in vaccination numbers.

Before Mr Johnson acted, Ms Sturgeon announced yesterday that Scotland will be plunged back into a national coronavirus lockdown from midnight.

The SNP leader said the new crackdown, lasting all of January, will include a legally enforceable stay-at-home rule.

Exercise and essential journeys will be the only reasons why people will be allowed to leave their homes.

The planned reopening of schools on January 18 is also being pushed back to February 1 at the earliest while workers are being instructed to work from home wherever possible.

Rules on outdoor gatherings will be tightened to allow a maximum of just two people from two households to meet.

Meanwhile, places of worship will be closed from this Friday but weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead.

A maximum of 20 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and a maximum of five people will be allowed to attend weddings.

Ms Sturgeon said the tough new curbs are necessary because of the ‘steeply rising’ rate of infections north of the border as she warned the lockdown could be extended beyond January if necessary.

The measures effectively mean a return to the restrictions seen during the first UK-wide lockdown which was imposed at the end of March last year.

All of mainland Scotland is already placed in the highest tier of Covid-19 rules but case numbers have prompted Ms Sturgeon to take more drastic action after 2,464 new cases were announced yesterday. 

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.

Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work

You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).

You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.

You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.

This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.

A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.

It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.

You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.

You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.

If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.

UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.

Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted. This means you must not go on holiday.

If you are visiting the UK, you may return home. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your destination.

You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.

This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.

If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical.

Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. A full list of reasons can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.

Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with local authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups, including the homeless.

Where people cannot work from home – including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing – they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.

Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.

Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.

Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned.

Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:

Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.

We have previously published guidance to universities and students on how students can return safely to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how we will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible following the winter break.

If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.

For those students who are eligible for face to face teaching, you can meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training, where necessary. Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. You should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.

Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.

You should check the guidance on visiting care homes during COVID-19 to find out how visits should be conducted. Residents cannot meet people indoors on a visit out (for example, to visit their relatives in the family home). There is separate guidance for those in supported living.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance, and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked religious, belief-based or commemorative events, such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 6 people in attendance. Anyone working is not counted in these limits. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to 6 people. Anyone working is not included. These should only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, golf courses, outdoor swimming pools, archery/driving/shooting ranges and riding arenas must also close. Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.

You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. The full list of businesses required to close can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities. A full list of exemptions can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:

The majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include:

What do the new lockdown rules mean for you? Schools and universities closed, the vulnerable told to shield, next summer’s exams cancelled or under threat and pubs are barred from selling take-away alcohol 

Boris Johnson tonight plunged England into a new lockdown as he set out emergency measures to control the spread of new strains of coronavirus amid concerns the NHS risks being overwhelmed.

Schools, shops and sports venues will close their doors for six weeks from early on Wednesday in scenes not witnessed since the original lockdown last March, with exercise pretty much the only reason to regularly leave home.

The Prime Minister’s address from 10 Downing Street came after Nicola Sturgeon plunged Scotland into a new lockdown there from midnight tonight.

Wales has been in lockdown since before Christmas, and Northern Ireland’s executive is due to announce its own measures when it meets tomorrow.  

The latest figures showed a further 407 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday and there were a record 58,784 more lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. 

Schools, shops and sports venues will close their doors for six weeks in scenes not witnessed since the original lockdown last March. Only exercise and essentials shopping will be allowed

The Prime Minister’s address from 10 Downing Street came after Nicola Sturgeon plunged Scotland into a new lockdown there from midnight tonight

England will be put into a full national lockdown that will last until the February half term.

All primary and secondary schools will close with immediate effect, remaining open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. The plan is for them to reopen after the February half-term break.

A-Level and GCSE exams are unlikely to go ahead as planned in the summer, with Mr Johnson saying: ‘We recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal.’

The public should stay at home unless they need to leave for one of just five reasons: 

All non-essential retailers, hospitality and ‘personal care’ like hairdressers must close if they have not yet done so under the tier system.

But pubs will no longer be allowed to offer take-away alcohol sales, because of the number of people gathering outside to drink.

The lockdown will see more than 550,000 business closures in England, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

The company said this included 401,690 non-essential shops, 64,537 pubs or restaurants, 20,703 personal care facilities and 7,051 gyms or leisure centres.

It added that 21,119 local council schools as well as 2,645 private schools will also have to close in England.

All indoor and outdoor sports venues, including golf courses and tennis courts, must close, and team sports cannot take place, even outdoors. 

Exercise is one of the few reasons people will regularly leave the house across Britain, along with shopping for necessities.

People who are extremely critically vulnerable (ECV) should stay at home even if they cannot work.

They can leave to get necessities like food and medicine but they should avoid busy areas.

Scotland will be plunged back into a national coronavirus lockdown from midnight this evening, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The SNP leader said the new crackdown, lasting all of January, will include a legally enforceable stay-at-home rule.

Exercise and essential journeys will be the only reasons why people will be allowed to leave their homes.

The planned reopening of schools on January 18 is also being pushed back to February 1 at the earliest while workers are being instructed to work from home wherever possible.

Rules on outdoor gatherings will be tightened to allow a maximum of just two people from two households to meet.

Pubs across the UK will remain closed and in England, those that were allowed to sell takeaway drinks will not be allowed to, because of fears over people congregating outside

Meanwhile, places of worship will be closed from this Friday but weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead.

A maximum of 20 people will be allowed to attend funeral services and a maximum of five people will be allowed to attend weddings.

Ms Sturgeon said the tough new curbs are necessary because of the ‘steeply rising’ rate of infections north of the border as she warned the lockdown could be extended beyond January if necessary.

The measures effectively mean a return to the restrictions seen during the first UK-wide lockdown which was imposed at the end of March last year.

All of mainland Scotland is already placed in the highest tier of Covid-19 rules but case numbers have prompted Ms Sturgeon to take more drastic action after 2,464 new cases were announced yesterday.

Schools in England will close immediately, joining those in Wales and Scotland. The latter two nations have already cancelled this summer’s exams and it may also happen in England, with plans yet to be confirmed.

Setting out the measures to come into force from Tuesday, the First Minister told MSPs in Holyrood: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.’

Senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove was understood to be discussing restrictions with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in a call ahead of Mr Johnson’s statement.

The latest data show a 41 per cent rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and January 3, figures which have caused alarm in Whitehall and the health service.

The current rules mean non-essential retailers, hospitality services and close contact services such as hairdressers must close. 

Two households can form a support bubble, permitted to meet in private gardens or indoors on Christmas Day only. 

A single person household will be permitted to join with one other household throughout the level four restrictions.  

Schools and colleges across Wales will move to online learning until January 18, the country’s education minister said today.

Kirsty Williams said the Welsh Government would use the next two weeks to work with local authorities and education settings to ‘best plan for the rest of the term’.

The government had previously arranged for schools to have flexibility over the first two weeks of the spring term, allowing them to choose when students would return to in-person learning.

Universities in Wales are due to begin a staggered start to term and students should not return for face-to-face learning unless notified that they can do so, she added.

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News – Michael Gove warns March is EARLIEST lockdown can start to be eased