England’s third national lockdown is now officially in place as Covid-19 infections continue to rise. Daily confirmed cases reached a new record of over 60,000 across the UK on Tuesday.
MPs have been recalled from the Christmas parliamentary recess to vote on the decision retrospectively. The vote will take place at 7 pm this evening, following a debate this afternoon.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics suggest one in 50 people in private homes across the country had the virus last week, whether they displayed symptoms or not. This equates to over one million people
in the UK. The figures show that in London, as many as one in 30 people had the virus.
In his announcement on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he could not guarantee pupils would return to school before the summer holidays. He maintained that he was optimistic things would be back to normal by the spring.
Professor Chris Whitty warned some of the restrictions might have to be put back into place over the next winter period.
He went on to say that the UK is facing a "really serious emergency" and that people need to stick to the latest lockdown rules.
Whitty said, "We're now into a situation where across the country as a whole, roughly one in 50 people have got the virus, higher in some parts of the country, lower in others."
The PM is also hopeful measures can start to be relaxed by the middle of February as the vaccine programme rolls out.
Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer urged the government to use the time in lockdown to enhance the vaccination scheme to become a "round-the-clock" operation so that the country can end this "nightmare."
In other parts of the UK, strict measures are also in place. Wales has been in lockdown since the 20 December. Schools and colleges across Wales will remain closed until at least 18 January.
Most of Scotland is also in lockdown, with some islands currently under tier three regulations. These restrictions are to remain in place for the rest of the month.
Northern Ireland is bringing back "stay at home" restrictions from Friday, after entering a six-week lockdown on Boxing Day.