A second national lockdown appears to be right around the corner, but it still not clear exactly how severe it will be.
It is understood that Boris Johnson is considering imposing sweeping restrictions across England from as early as Wednesday, replacing the current three-tier ‘traffic light’ system.
It comes after Government scientists showed the PM grim figures, claiming the spread of Covid-19 is ‘significantly’ faster than their initial ‘worst-case scenario’ prediction, warning of 85,000 deaths over the course of the winter.
Experts have warned 4,000 people could die every day unless further restrictions are brought in.
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Hospital admissions for coronavirus shot up by 33% in a week in England, up from 5,009 to 6,661 in the week to October 25, according to NHS data.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister resisted calls for a short ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown.
While he refused to rule out tougher action, he insisted a properly implemented strategy of local restrictions could ‘avoid the misery of another national lockdown’.
But with the number of people with coronavirus in England soaring by nearly a third last week, senior Government advisers have now said it is ‘too late’ for a two week lockdown.
A final decision is yet to be taken, but any new measures are expected to last until December.
Will pubs and restaurants close?
Just like the first national lockdown in March, pubs, bars and restaurants could be forced to close completely.
Under the current system’s most severe tier three restrictions, pubs can only open if they serve ‘substantial meals’, allowing them to act like a restaurant.
Pubs are still open in second tier areas but members of separate households are not allowed to mix indoors unless they are part of a support bubble.
The nationwide ‘rule of six’ for social gatherings still applies outdoors in these regions.
What about shops?
It is unclear what will happen to non-essential retail businesses, but essential shops like supermarkets will stay open.
In Wales, where a 17 day ‘firebreaker’ lockdown was imposed on October 23, supermarkets were banned from selling non-essential items such as clothes and hardware.
But this does not mean Downing Street will impose the same rule on shops in England.
Will schools close?
It is thought the Government will allow schools and universities to stay open this time round.
Under the first national lockdown, only vulnerable pupils and children of key workers were able to attend school in person.
Will I be travel to other areas?
It is thought people will be urged to stay inside their area, but it is not known what enforcement measures will be used, if any.
Overnight stays in other areas, and other people’s homes, will most likely be banned.
Will I have to shield again?
Under the first lockdown 2.2 million people classed as medically vulnerable were asked to ‘shield’, avoiding any trips outside.
This was only advisory, and it is not known if the Government will issue the same advice again.
Despite worrying figures from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the UK’s R rate – measuring the speed at which coronavirus reproduces – has fallen for the second week in a row.
The R number is now between 1.1 and 1.3, meaning every person with Covid-19 will go on to infect between one and three people.
Last week the rate was 1.2 to 1.4 and it was thought to be between 1.3 and 1.5 the previous week.
The new Job Support Scheme coming into effect in November will cover two-thirds of wages of workers at businesses forced to close completely.
Under the previous furlough scheme 80% of wages were initially covered by the Government.
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