On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown, commencing on Thursday 5th November until, at the earliest, 2nd December.
Johnson said the reason behind the new national lockdown was to prevent a "medical and moral disaster" for the NHS, as concerns have grown services may become overwhelmed in the winter months.
The PM also hopes that implementing this second lockdown now would mean that families could gather for Christmas. In the press conference held on Saturday evening, he said: "Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it's my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together."
The lockdown will see the closure of non-essential shops and gyms, alongside pubs and restaurants closing. However, schools, colleges and universities are being allowed to stay open during the lockdown period.
The decision to take national precautions comes after figures from Imperial College and other scientific advisory bodies suggested that, should action not be taken, the number of deaths could reach "several thousand a day". Johnson went on to say that "no responsible prime minister" could ignore figures such as these, and there is a great risk that the "peak of mortality" could rise to numbers greater than what the country saw in April.
The PM also said that hospitals are struggling with capacity as it is. The lowest number of cases is in the south-west of England, and even in this region, the PM said hospitals would run out of space in a matter of weeks.
He said, "Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would get oxygen and who wouldn't, who would live and who would die."
Under the new rules, people may not meet in private gardens or indoors. People can only leave their homes for essential trips, such as shopping for essential goods, medical reasons, exercise and providing care.
One can meet with one other person from another household in a public space, and people are still allowed to form support bubbles. Children can also move between houses, provided that their parents are separated.
Shielding is not compulsory. However, those who are clinically vulnerable are asked to be "especially careful".
Many feel that the second lockdown has come too late and are concerned that the government was warned weeks ago about the increasing rate of the virus spreading. BBC’s Science correspondent, Pallab Ghosh, reported that "the government was advised to bring in a form of lockdown in England by its scientific advisory group on 21st September."
Keeping schools and universities open is also causing worry. The National Education Union commented that excluding these institutions from the rules of the lockdown would be “self-defeating” as it ignores the impact schools had on the spreading of the virus.
On Saturday, the PM said that he was "truly sorry" for the effect that COVID-19 and lockdowns have had on businesses. The furlough scheme has therefore been extended through November.