UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a raft of tough new restrictions for England as its coronavirus disaster escalates.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a raft of tough new restrictions for England as its coronavirus disaster escalates.

Britain shuts down as crisis worsens

Boris Johnson has revealed Britain will once again be plunged into lockdown in a bid to contain the escalating coronavirus nightmare.

The new lockdown - the third since the pandemic began - is expected to last six weeks and will come into effect from tomorrow.

In a national address on Tuesday morning Australia time, Mr Johnson said the new variant of the coronavirus which has caused a fresh disaster in the UK was both "frustrating and alarming", given it was 50 to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain.

He explained UK hospitals were under more pressure now than at any point previously during the pandemic, with almost 30,000 people hospitalised, a 40 per cent jump compared with the first peak.

In fact, he claimed that official statistics indicated that if the nation did not take action immediately, hospitals would be overwhelmed within three weeks.

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Mr Johnson said the only solution was a new lockdown, claiming it had become "clear that we need to do more" to bring the virus "under control".

He said in the past week the number of COVID-relate deaths had risen by 20 per cent, and that the number would "sadly rise further".

The PM urged vulnerable members of the public to "shield" themselves against the illness and warned that the latest lockdown would be a challenge for the nation, although he also shared a message of hope for the frustrated population.

"The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe we're entering the last stage of the struggle," he said.

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

The new rules mean residents must stay home unless they are carrying out essential tasks such as shopping, working if working from home is not possible, exercising, seeking medical help or escaping domestic violence.

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Schools will also return to remote learning tomorrow.

The UK's coronavirus vaccination rollout began in early December, but at the moment the highly infectious new variant is spreading faster than the population can be vaccinated.

Mr Johnson's announcement comes hot on the heels of Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's revelation that mainland Scotland would enter a full lockdown from midnight on Monday UK time, which would be in place for the rest of the month.

Originally published as Britain shuts down as crisis worsens