BORIS Johnson last night told Brits to stay at home as he plunged England into a third nationwide lockdown.
The Prime Minister announced a raft of new measures in a bid to drive down surging coronavirus infections caused by the mutant strain.
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When do the new rules come into force?
The new lockdown measures came into force last night and will remain in place until the middle of February.
This is the third national shutdown following the four-week lockdown which came into force on November 5.
Mr Johnson warned: "It’s both frustrating and alarming to see the speed that the new variant is spreading.
"It’s clear we need to do more together to bring the new variant under control while out vaccines are rolled out. In England we must therefore go into a national lockdown."
A strict stay-at-home message is in force and Brits have been urged to work from home unless they are unable to.
It came as:
- Boris Johnson begged Brits to stay at home as he unveiled the third national lockdown
- All primary and secondary schools are set to stay shut for at least a month under the new guidelines
- The UK Covid alert has moved to the highest level for the first time ever with fears the NHS will be overwhelmed
- MP Margaret Ferrier has been charged after travelling from London to Scotland
- The UK has recorded its highest ever daily case today with infections passing the 50,000 mark for the seventh day in a row
What are you allowed to do?
Under the new restrictions, Brits can only leave home for limited reasons.
Mr Johnson said people will only be allowed out of their homes to buy essential food and medicine supplies, attend medical appointments, and exercise.
Brits can go to work if it cannot be done from home, provide care for a vulnerable person and attend education if eligible.
Will schools and nurseries close?
From today, (Tuesday January 5), all primary schools, secondaries and colleges move to remote provision except for vulnerable and key worker kids.
Nurseries and special schools will remain open.
The PM said: "We have been doing everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important every day is to children’s life chances.
"Schools are not unsafe for children, they are very unlikely to be affected by the new variant but they cause the virus to spread between households."
Exams for this summer have been cancelled with further announcements expected in the near future.
Students have been encouraged to study from their current residence where possible until at least mid February.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has demanded all schools shut under a new national shutdown with the virus raging "out of control".
"I’m afraid the closure of schools is now inevitable and therefore that needs to be part of… the national plan for further restrictions."
Can I visit other people's homes?
The Prime Minister advised that Brits should start following the stay-at-home guidance immediately.
People should not mix with other households but support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain.
Children who have parents separated will continue to be able to move between households as they have throughout.
You will be able to go for a walk with one other household but you cannot sit down and have a drink with them.
Can I go the pub?
Under the new rules takeaway alcohol is banned.
Brits had previously been allowed to buy a takeaway pint from the pub to enjoy.
But the new rules mean that pubs won't even be allowed to do that.
Are weddings and funerals allowed to take place?
Weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.
Up to six people can attend a wedding or equivalent ceremony.
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people.
Can you exercise under the new restrictions?
Under the new measures, Brits are only allowed to exercise with one other person.
The rules mean that you will have to be exercising so you cannot sit on the bench with them.
Outdoor sports venues will be closed but playgrounds will be allowed to stay open.
Can you travel under the new restrictions?
The new rules mean that Brits will not be able to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Only essential travel, such as for work purposes, is allowed.
This means that holidays are off the agenda for the foreseeable.
What about family arrangements?
Children with separated parents will be allowed to continue to see both parents.
They will not have to make the choice whether to see one parent or the other.
Can I still move home?
Brits are still allowed to move home but social distancing guidelines must be observed.
Only people within your household or support bubble should help you move.
Friends and family outside of your support bubble will be unable to help.
Can I still volunteer?
Despite the new lockdown restrictions, volunteering remains allowed.
Under the new rules, Brits are allowed to leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
Social distancing guidelines must be observed and masks must be worn if indoors.
Can I still go to hospital?
Yes, Brits can still go to hospital despite the lockdown restrictions.
You can leave your home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
Academics’ grave warning over mutated virus
Experts have warned the super-infectious new coronavirus strain was spreading quickly among children DURING November lockdown
Academics from Imperial College London say the mutated super-infectious strain of Covid was spreading among children during the lockdown in November.
And they've warned that only closing schools can keep it contained.
Their study confirms that the new variant is more infectious, and the shutdown did little to contain it.
It was most prevalent among the 10-19 age group, and may be nearly 50 percent more transmissible, experts say.
The study is yet to be peer-reviewed, but academics claim the R number for the mutation is between 0.4 and 0.7 points higher.
Today, Sage member Professor Sir Mark Walport said it was "pretty clear" tougher restrictions were needed to control the strain.
The former chief scientific adviser told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "It's the Tier 4 restrictions, it's obeying them.
"It is thinking about breaking essentially every possible route of transmission we possibly can.
"Those are the things that are absolutely necessary and it is pretty clear we're going to need more."
He said the mutation is "transmitted more readily in younger age groups", adding: "It is going to be very difficult to keep it under control without much tighter social restrictions."
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