Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Saturday night (31 Oct) to announce a new national lockdown, in response to continually rising levels of infection and hospitalisations from the virus all over the country.
The new national lockdown will see normal life grind to a halt, with just schools, universities and colleges remaining open, as well as workplaces where staff cannot work from home.
There are some differences between the new restrictions and the earlier lockdown, and there are still details of how these restrictions will work due to be announced. Here’s everything we know so far about the second lockdown in England.
What will be closed?
Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all close, meaning clothing and electronics stores, betting shops, gyms, bowling alleys and more will be unable to open.
Hospitals and medical services, such as GPs, will remain open, though, and people are being encouraged not to miss appointments or avoid seeing medical experts unless specifically advised otherwise.
Playgrounds and parks will remain open, though there are restrictions on who you can meet in such public places.
Can I leave home?
The national lockdown also means people should not leave their homes unless for specific reasons, such as education or work, if neither can be done from home, as well as exercise. However, this is not limited to once per day, as it was in March.
Going out to shop for food and other essentials is also allowed, and people can leave their homes to provide care or attend medical appointments.
You can also leave with people from your household for recreational purposes, or alone with one person from another household.
This means you and someone you live with could go for a walk together, or you could have lunch on a park bench with one person from another household, following the ‘one plus one’ rule.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries confirmed that children under school age and with a parent or guardian will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.
When will all this come into effect?
The new national lockdown will come into effect on Thursday 5 November, and is presently scheduled to run until 2 December, however this could well be extended.
It is thought that the national lockdown will initially be eased on a regional basis, with those areas with the lowest levels of infections likely to be first to have the restrictions reduced.
Speaking to Sky News, cabinet minister Michael Gove replied “yes” when asked whether the national lockdown might be extended. However, he said he thinks it is “likely” that the restrictions will bring the rate of infection enough to reduce the measures nationally and regionally.
Are elderly and vulnerable people being asked to shield again?
During the last national lockdown a number of people were told especially to shield and not to go to work.
However, people over 60 and the clinically vulnerable are not being told to shield this time, but, instead, to be particularly careful to follow the rules and minimise contact with other people.
Anything else I should know?
The furlough scheme - which was due to come to an end on 31 October - has now been extended, meaning staff who are furloughed will receive 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500, for as long as the new lockdown is in place.
An extension to the mortgage payment holiday means homeowners whose finances are affected by lockdown will be able to take a break from their payments, although no similar package of support has been offered to renters.
Most sporting events are likely to continue albeit without supporters, including Premier League football, which Boris Johnson said would continue, despite restrictions.
Places of worship will remain open, but only for private prayer.
People can move house, according to housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who said in a tweet that house moves can go ahead and “removal firms and estate agents can operate, construction sites can and should continue, tradespeople will be able to enter homes.”
Members of the public are being advised to avoid non-essential travel, including holidays both abroad and domestically, but people can travel for work, and may use second homes for work purposes.