Boris Johnson announcement tonight: What will PM say in Covid address at 8pm?

Coronavirus in numbers Boris Johnson has announced that England is to enter its third national lockdown, which means the government is instructing everyone to “stay at home”, and that all schools will close from tomorrow. The prime minister made the call in a televised address on Monday evening, in which he said the “weeks ahead will be hardest yet”.

“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.  It comes as government figures today revealed the UK has reached another record daily high of 58,784 new coronavirus cases, making this the seventh consecutive day in a row there have been over 50,000 new Covid cases across Britain.  Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier on Monday that Scotland would also enter a national lockdown, and that it was now law that all residents living on Scotland’s mainland must “stay home”. 

Meanwhile, the first doses of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered. Just over half a million doses will be available from Monday, in what Matt Hancock, the health secretary, described as a “pivotal moment” in the UK’s fight against the coronavirus.

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‘Stay at home’: Johnson announces new national lockdown

Boris Johnson has placed England into a third national lockdown until at least the middle of February following warnings from experts that the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed. The health service could be overrun in just three weeks without urgent action, the prime minster said.  

Although the restrictions will not become law until tomorrow, Mr Johnson said he was instructing the public to stay at home from tonight.   Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more: Sam Hancock4 January 2021 20:16

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Alcohol takeaway and deliveries now closed, PM says

All restaurants, pubs and other hospitality settings must close their doors to customers from tomorrow under the new rules announced by the prime minister in a televised statement from No 10.

Alcohol takeaways and deliveries are to be banned from tomorrow until mid-February in England as Boris Johnson clamps down on socialising under the new lockdown regime. Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports: Sam Hancock4 January 2021 20:15

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‘We must act now,’ warns chief medical officer Whitty

Sam Hancock4 January 2021 19:49

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OECD warns governments against austerity due to Covid

The OECD’s chief economist has said governments should keep spending money to help limit the economic damage caused by coronavirus. 

In an interview with the Financial Times,  Laurence Boone warned that people would reject further rounds of austerity. “If we thought there was popular resentment because the quality of jobs was going down [before Covid-19], then it’s going to be much worse after this pandemic,” she told the newspaper. My colleague Ben Chapman has the story:

Sam Hancock4 January 2021 19:45

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‘Teachers must be prioritised to receive vaccine,’ Welsh MP says

Conservative shadow education minister Suzy Davies, a Welsh MP, said the announcement about schools had “come late” for children and parents preparing to return to school on Wednesday and urged teachers to be a priority for vaccination. “Because of the planned staggered return, we were told that teachers were preparing online, blended learning,” she said. “I hope, and I’m sure all parents and pupils feel the same, that these systems can be adapted for this full closure.” Ms Davies added: “What parents, pupils and teachers across Wales need is reassurance from the minister [Mark Drakeford] as to what conditions must be met for schools to reopen, because while a prudent measure, to read that the next two weeks will be used to plan for ‘… rest of term’ offers little reassurance.

“This announcement, however, reinforces our calls for teachers to be prioritised to receive the new vaccine, because this virus has damaged our young learners’ education enough.” Sam Hancock4 January 2021 19:30

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Pupils without laptops and wifi risk falling behind during school closures

Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, all mainstream secondary schools and colleges are currently closed, other than to vulnerable children and those with parents who are key workers, while primary schools in many areas also remain shut. The fallout, headteachers, local councils and charities have warned, is that disadvantaged pupils face falling behind their peers this month as many are still without laptops and internet access for online learning during school closures.

Our social affairs correspondent, May Bulman, reports: Sam Hancock4 January 2021 19:15

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Doctors ‘ready to go’ in vaccine rollout, experts claim

Doctors on the front line of the UK’s vaccine programme have said they are “ready to go” and will be able to administer doses “very quickly” in the months ahead, amid questions over whether or not the NHS can inoculate 2 million people a week. My colleague Samuel Lovett has more amid suggestions that staffing constraints could hinder the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine:

Sam Hancock4 January 2021 19:00

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UK leaders speak out after four-nation phone call

Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford announced schools would remain closed while a government spokeswoman confirmed Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon had taken part in a four-way call between UK leaders to discuss Boris Johnson’s actions moving forwards. The Scottish spokeswoman said: “The First Minister has taken part in a four nations call during which there was a briefing on the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening and agreement was reached on a range of areas where the four nations can work together to keep people safe.” It comes amid growing speculation that Mr Johnson is set to move England into a third national lockdown to combat a rising surge in Covid cases, thought to be caused by the new variant of the virus. 

Sam Hancock4 January 2021 18:51

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NHS ‘insistent’ rule tightening should be ‘immediate and decisive’

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the latest figures on the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital showed the pandemic was at a “critical point” and that “immediate and decisive action” was needed. He said: “Trust leaders are clear about the cost and impact of tighter restrictions. But they are also clear that if we are to prevent significant numbers of unnecessary deaths, reduce patient harm and give the NHS the best chance of treating all the patients who need care, the government must now immediately tighten the current tier system rules.”

Mr Hopson also said “NHS trust leaders are insistent that any tightening should be immediate and decisive” ahead of Boris Johnson’s televised address this evening at 8pm. “They are clear that the current tier 3 rules are insufficient and the tier 4 rules appear to just slow down the rate of increase in Covid transmission, as opposed to actually cutting it,” he said. “They are also worried about the time lag between any new measures being announced, and the impact on reducing hospital admissions.” Sam Hancock4 January 2021 18:41

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‘Only way out is stricter measures,’ says Sage member

Sage member Professor John Edmunds has said that “really major additional measures” are immediately needed to control the spread of coronavirus, with school closures being the “biggest lever” available.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine scientist told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “We’re in a really difficult situation. The new strain is significantly more transmissible than the old strains. So we have to take significant extra measures to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed with Covid patients.

Unfortunately we are going to have to take some really major additional measures, I can’t see any other way out of it. The biggest lever that has only partly been pulled is school closures. That would have the biggest effect of a single measure and I can see that happening.”

Prof Edmunds went on to say “we have to take really quite stringent steps right now”, adding that – unlike health secretary Matt Hancock – he believed the public were “pretty compliant” when it came to Covid rules. 

Sam Hancock4 January 2021 18:33

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