The Prime Minister has announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
The decision follows a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, and our hospitals are now under more pressure than they have been at any other point throughout the pandemic.
This drastic jump in cases has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19, which our scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.
From 5th January 2021, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for the following reasons:
All non-essential retail, hospitality and personal care services must close, or remain closed. Restaurants can continue delivery, takeaway or click-and-collect of food and non-alcoholic drinks, but venues will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol.
Essential shops and garden centres can remain open. Entertainment venues and animal attractions such as zoos must close, but the outdoor areas of venues such as heritage homes and botanical gardens can remain open, to be used for exercise. Playgrounds may also remain open.
Places of worship can also remain open, but you may only visit with your household.
Indoor and outdoor sports facilities including sports courts, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools, and riding arenas must also close. Elite sport and disabled sport can continue, as can PE lessons for those children attending school.
A full list of businesses required to close can be found here.
The restrictions will come into effect from 5th January and are expected to last until the middle of February if the situation in hospitals improve.
Further government guidance about the lockdown can be found here.
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