England is bracing for harsh new coronavirus restrictions to come in tomorrow after MPs overwhelmingly backed another national lockdown.
It means that various businesses will be forced to shut, people will again be urged to stay at home and social mixing will be all but banned from Thursday, November 5, to Wednesday, December 2.
But despite this being the second lockdown of its kind, there are a number of key differences with the restrictions last time around. Many fear that the looser nature of the incoming measures mean they could be extended, or leave the country facing a third lockdown at a later date.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he faced no alternative to the nuclear option of a lockdown, amid fears that the NHS could be overwhelmed by a new spike in Covid-19 cases and as the likes of France and Germany announced similarly draconian steps.
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Below, we take a look at some of the changes between the rules for England’s looming lockdown and what people could do last time.
Children can go to school
Crucially, schools will remain open this time around – along with nurseries, colleges and universities.
That could have major ramifications for the R rate, with experts suggesting that pupils in secondary schools could continue to spread the virus, blunting the effectiveness of this lockdown and potentially prolonging it.
University students are being urged to remain on campuses, amid warnings that if they go home they risk spreading the virus across the country.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different rules
Last time around the whole of the UK locked down. But tomorrow’s changes only apply to England. Wales and Northern Ireland are in the midst of ‘firebreak’ and ‘circuit-break’ lockdowns respectively while Scotland has a new five tier system in place.
You can exercise with one other person outside your household
In March, Brits were only allowed to leave their homes once a day to exercise, but now it is unlimited.
You are also allowed to take this exercise – perhaps a walk in a public park – with one person from outside of your household, while children below pre-school age are not included in that two-person limit.
Care home visits are allowed
Close family and friends will be encouraged to meet their loved ones in care homes through a window or in an outside setting under new Government guidelines. That is a significant departure from the last lockdown, when all face-to-face visits were banned.
So-called ‘ad-hoc’ visits will not be allowed, although care homes ‘will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities’, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Places of worship will be partially open
Like last time, places of worship, including churches, mosques, synagogues and other venues, will be told to close for communal prayer. However, private prayer for individuals will now be allowed.
People who were particularly vulnerable to the virus were told to shield in the spring. But shielding has been put on hold for months and will not be officially reinstated for this lockdown, despite new guidance being published just hours before lockdown.
People over 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable are being told to be especially careful about following the rules and minimising their contact with others.
Football is on
Last time around the world of sport was essentially postponed en masse.
But ‘elite’ sports in England, including Premier League football, will be allowed to continue despite the restrictions for the coming month. Grassroots sport, however, has been cancelled, with gyms also not allowed to open, despite intensive lobbying.
Public toilets are open
In March, there was widespread criticism of the decision to close public toilets, as it made life uncomfortable for people or meant they relieved themselves in unsuitable areas, to the disgust of locals. This time there are likely to be fewer issues of that unsavoury nature.
The concept of a ‘support bubble’ had not yet come into place during the last lockdown, leaving people living alone facing isolation. This time around, however, single-adult households can remain in an exclusive support bubble with one other household.
You could even get takeaway pints together – but like last time you will not be able to have them inside.
Dentists and opticians are open
There appear to be more allowances for what counts as an ‘essential’ shop this time and among them are services to look after your teeth and eyes.
The public will be able to access dentists and opticians, as well as garden centres, outdoor food stalls, pet shops, hardware and bicycle stores.
However, homeware stores are not identified as essential retailers, unlike the first lockdown.
Click and collect options will also be available to customers.
You’re unlikely to see big protests
In the first lockdown, people gathered in groups to protest. While there was limited social distancing on show at times, the events were allowed. But this time around Home Secretary Priti Patel has specifically said there will be a ban on protests of any more than two people.
You can’t go on holiday
Outbound international travel for holiday purposes is being outlawed for a month, in an unprecedented move which may confuse those who believe banning inbound travel to England would be a more effective way of controlling the virus.
It means you are not allowed to go on foreign holidays for the duration of lockdown.
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