England’s national lockdown has been extended until at least Monday 8th March the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced.
The PM has confirmed all non-essential businesses and schools will remain shut because the country still faces a ‘perilous situation’. This means the current lockdown will be in place for at least nine weeks The Prime Minister said the Government would set out plans in the week beginning 22nd February for the ‘gradual and phased’ route out of lockdown. The PM confirmed that schools would be the first to reopen followed by the lifting of other economic and social restrictions one-by-one.
He said, ‘It was the emergence of a new variant that forced England back into lockdown and I know everyone yearns to know how much longer we must endure these restrictions. We will not persist for a day longer than is necessary but nor can we relax too soon, because if we do we run the risk of our NHS coming under still greater pressure, compelling us to re-impose every restriction and sustain those restrictions for longer.’
‘What we do know is that we remain in a perilous situation with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid, almost double the peak of the first wave. But the overall picture should be clearer by mid-February. By then, we will know much more about the effect of vaccines in prevent hospitalisations and deaths using data from the UK but also other nations like Israel. We will know how successful the current restrictions have been in driving down infections. We will also know how many people are still in hospital with Covid which we simply can’t predict with certainty today. So we will then be in a better position to chart a course out of lockdown without risking a further surge that would overwhelm the NHS.’