Under UK lockdown? Examine Boris Johnson’s latest rules and regulations
The UK is officially in lockdown for the third time since the COVID-19 global pandemic started. The announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes on the same day the UK celebrates the arrival of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the coronavirus battleground – almost as a way for the PM to underscore this isn’t the time for anyone to lower their guard (did they have a Vybe Together app over there too?).
The UK lockdown is meant to, once again, contain the spread of COVID-19 – especially a recently discovered new strain that has proven to be more contagious than the original virus. UK chief medical officers recommended the COVID threat level be increased to five – its highest level – which led to the Prime Minister’s decision to announce the new quarantine measures.
Shut it down
The latest UK lockdown is expected to last at least until mid-February due to the new virus variant spreading in a “frustrating & alarming” way, said Johnson during his announcement. The PM elaborated: “As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic.”
As of today, the increase in COVID patients in hospitals equals more than 30% from a week ago, with 26,626 hospitalizations. That number is 40% more than the highest level during the first COVID wave in the spring. Authorities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections every day since December 29th. The total number of COVID deaths in the UK is currently 75,431 – one of the worst in Europe.
According to the UK chief medical officers, “there is a material risk of the National Health Service in several areas being overwhelmed over the next twenty-one days” if further actions weren’t taken. Hence the new UK lockdown, which authorities are hoping will allow the NHS to regroup and catch their breath while dealing with the planned waves of vaccinations all over the country.
The new UK lockdown restrictions are detailed in a twenty-two-page document published by the government. The main takeaway from reading it is the most obvious one: if you live in the UK, you need to stay home. There are certain instances where leaving your home is allowed but, generally speaking, UK citizens must stay in.
You are allowed to leave your home for work-related reasons, but only if your job can’t be performed remotely. You are also allowed to go shopping for basic necessities (don’t hoard the toilet paper!) and, obviously, if you need to seek medical assistance or if leaving your home is necessary to avoid injury, illness, or risk of harm.
Because this UK lockdown doesn’t want you to grow out of shape, you’re also allowed to leave your home to exercise, but only once per day and only with your household or with one other person. You can’t travel outside your local area and should always stay two meters (six feet) away from anyone who’s not part of your household.
Most children are set to learn remotely until the February half term. Colleges, primary, and secondary schools will remain open but only for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. If you belong to one of the groups eligible to continue your education in person, you will be allowed to leave your home when necessary. Early Years settings, such as nurseries, will remain open.
On the other hand, university students will not be allowed to return to campuses and will be taught online. End-of-the-year exams will not take place this summer as they normally do. Whether this is good or bad will depend on how confident you felt about your school performance so far.
Other fun stuff
You know this was coming: restaurants can only offer food delivery, no dine-in experiences. Takeaway alcohol will be banned so adjust your expectations when ordering outside food.
Outdoor sports venues – golf courses, tennis courts, outside gyms – must close. And while elite sports such as Premier League football can continue (at least for the time being), amateur team sports are no longer allowed.
You are still allowed to play sports videogames at home though.