On Saturday 31st October 2020, millions of people around the UK were anticipating the annoucement of the second national lockdown after a government report was leaked to the press. The number of COVID-19 cases have been rising dramatically over the recent weeks as students started to return to school; but this has caused a second lockdown to be necessary.
Boris Johnson announced that he would be livestreaming an event at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, but pushed the event back an hour due to delays. Further delays would continue and the event would not start until quarter to seven in the evening.
Part of tonight’s broadcast included statistics that showed the spread of coronavirus in the country, as well as the percentage of the population in England that received positive test results. During the week of the 17th to 23rd October 2020, there were an estimated 568,100 cases of COVID-19 in England, which is equivelent to approximately 1.04% of the population, or 1 in 100 people according to the Government’s broadcast.
A heatmap of the number of positive COVID-19 cases was also displayed on the slideshow, showing that the ‘North-East’, ‘North-West’, ‘Yorkshire and Humber’ and ‘East-Midlands’ categories were the worst in the country during the month of October. All four of these geographic areas have seen over 400 positive coronavirus tests per day in the 16-29 age category, while the ‘East of England’, ‘South-East’ and ‘South West’ areas are seeing the lowest number of cases within the same age range (between 200 and 300).
Boris Johnson swifty moved on to the news that the country have been waiting for – the controversial second national lockdown. The prime minister explained that this lockdown is not as severe as the first lockdown we saw in March 2020, but the lockdown guidelines will apply from Thursday 5th November until the start of December.
“Even if I could now double capacity [of the NHS] overnight – and obviously I am proud that we have massively increased capacity – it still would not be enough. The virus is doubling faster than we can conceivably add capacity,” explained Mr Johnson. “From Thursday, until the start of December, you must stay at home. You may only leave home for specific reasons, including for education, for work – if you cannot work from home – for exercise and recreational activities outdoors with your household or alone with one other household.”
The Conservative prime minister also listed “medical reasons and appointments’, ‘to escape injury or harm’, ‘shopping for food and essentials’, ‘providing care for vulnerable people or volunteering’ as other activities that are exempt from the lockdown rules.
“I’m afraid non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed; though ‘click and collect’ services can continue, and essential shops will remain open – so there is no need to stock up,” explained Mr Johnson. “Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except for takeaway and delivery services. Workplaces should stay open when people can’t work from home, such as those in the construction sectors.”
We will get through this - but we must act now to contain the spread of coronavirus.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 31, 2020
While Christmas will be very different this year, it is my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together. (9/10)
Mr Johnson continued, saying that “single, adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household”, and “children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.”
The prime minister emphasised that those that are “clinically vulnerable” or over the age of sixty, you should be especially careful to follow the rules and reduce the amount of contact with others. He explained that even if they cannot work from home, they should not go to work. They do not, however, have to continue ‘shielding’. The furlough scheme is also set to be extended until the start of December.
The public’s response
The news of a second lockdown in the UK has naturally sparked controversy over the internet, with the hastag ‘#CloseTheSchool’ trending on Twitter with over 26,700 Tweets in the last hour. One Twitter user expressed their confusion about schools, colleges and universities being open during the lockdown, saying “This heat map literally shows that the age group in schools are the ones with the most cases, yet the schools are still open;” while a concerned student Tweeted “Year 13 students are realising they still need to take their A Levels, even though we are 6 months behind in content, have no reduced content on exams, and half of us won’t finish content by summer. But Boris cares about “our futures” apparently.”
Header image: Nick Fewings via Unsplash.