PM puts England back in full lockdown

“Boris Johnson plunged England into its third national lockdown in a desperate attempt last night to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed by the rising flood of Covid-19 cases. People will be required to stay at home for all but a handful of reasons until at least February 15 in the strictest set of restrictions imposed since last March. The laws will come into effect from the early hours of tomorrow (Tuesday) and parliament will be recalled the same day. “The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet,” the prime minister said in a televised address. “I know how tough this is. I know how frustrated you are, I know you’ve had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus. But now more than ever you must pull together.” – The Times

  • England enters third national lockdown, with ‘hardest weeks’ ahead – Daily Telegraph
  • PM orders third lockdown for England – FT
  • England to enter toughest lockdown since March – Guardian
  • Public told again ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ – Daily Mail
  • Gove says England lockdown restrictions ‘should’ begin easing in March – Daily Express
  • Worship and childcare allowed, but no meeting just for a chat – The Times
  • Back to the drawing board for big exams – The Times
  • Travellers must show negative test to enter UK – The Times
  • More businesses ‘will fail without government help’ – The Times
  • Jabs given to 13m by mid-February, vows Johnson – The Sun
  • Johnson promises vaccine for all priority cases by mid-February – The Times
  • Vaccine rollout hampered by red tape and lack of back-up stocks – FT
  • Unease amongst doctors as follow-up doses delayed – The Guardian
  • What England’s new national lockdown rules mean – Daily Telegraph
  • Rules set out for England’s ‘Lockdown III’ – FT
  • This is a race against time to vaccinate the vulnerable – The Times

Parts of NHS facing collapse in three weeks, say medical chiefs

“The NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed within three weeks in parts of the country, Britain’s four chief medical officers warned last night as hospital admissions overtook their first-wave peak. In a statement raising Britain’s Covid-19 alert level to five, Professor Chris Whitty and his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said that they were not confident that the service could handle a further sustained rise in cases. Analysis showed that Britain was on course for 100,000 deaths by early February as another record number of infections led to official warnings that “the lives of our friends and family” depended on sticking to the rules.” – The Times

  • Most patients for a decade wait over 12 hours on trolley – The Times

Cabinet split on school closures

“The schools that the prime minister had fought to keep open will have their gates locked until the February half term, and the economic agony caused by Covid-19 will persist. The issue split the cabinet. Michael Gove, Cabinet Office minister, and Matt Hancock, health secretary, argued that schools should be closed after the Christmas break or the country’s hospitals could be overwhelmed. But Mr Johnson backed Gavin Williamson, education secretary, who proposed a staggered return for school pupils in January. Two members of the 2019 intake said they had on Monday submitted letters of no-confidence in Mr Johnson to Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 committee of backbench MPs that governs leadership contests. “I’m completely fed up. He just can’t lead and this can’t go on,” one said.” – FT

  • Schools caught out by government U-turn on closure – FT
  • All schools in Wales to stay closed until at least January 18 – WalesOnline
Northern Ireland
  • Pupils across Northern Ireland could have remote classes until February – Belfast Telegraph

Sturgeon imposes full ‘stay at home’ lockdown in Scotland – with swipe at Johnson

“Scotland’s mainland is to return to full lockdown for at least the rest of January after Nicola Sturgeon warned schools must stay shut and people at home if a “race” against the mutant Covid strain is to be won. The First Minister said the shutdown – “similar” to the one imposed last March – followed a massive surge in cases linked to the new variant that threatened to overwhelm the NHS within four weeks. From Tuesday, only two Scots from two households can meet outside, with the limit not including children under 12, and people are only allowed to leave their homes for a limited range of reasons such as food shopping. Although Boris Johnson unveiled a similar lockdown for England, she sniped at him for acting too slowly to quash a much larger surge in cases in London and the south-east of England.” – Daily Telegraph

  • First minister in ‘stay-at-home plea’ as new rules begin – The Scotsman
  • Suspended SNP MP charged over Covid breach – Daily Telegraph

Ruth Davidson: We have to repay the young for their enormous Covid sacrifices

“We all know that Covid doesn’t affect everyone equally. Dozens of reports have told us that the old, the obese, those with underlying health conditions and people from black or minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to have more severe symptoms, to need hospital treatment and to die from the virus. What has been under-reported is the way in which the sacrifices made to control the virus have also been unequal. Listening to the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon outlining the latest measures being introduced to combat the acceleration of Covid, including school closures, it was hard not to think of those who have sacrificed most of all: the UK’s young adults.” – Daily Telegraph

Mark Wallace: Parliament has finally been recalled, why did it take Johnson so long?

“It’s obviously right that Parliament is being recalled, and will therefore be sitting from tomorrow (Tuesday) rather than waiting until next week. If anything, the question is why it took so long to make that decision. Look around. The UK’s Covid rate continues to spike, driven at least in part by the more transmissible new variant of the virus, and the daily figures on hospitalisations and deaths continue to be accordingly dire. In the past few weeks, the country has briefly been subject to a variety of new-ish tiers, with half-explained variations tagged on here and there. In recent days, confusion over the opening or closure of schools has caused a great deal of distress and disruption to pupils, teachers and parents alike.” – the i

Australian PM suggests UK ‘cut corners’ to rush out vaccines

“Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, said today he would not take “unnecessary risks” and emulate Britain’s emergency drug approval. While vaccinations are already well underway in many countries, Australia’s pharmaceutical authority is not expected to rule on candidate drugs for around another month, and is aiming to administer the first doses by the end of March. Pressed about that seemingly sluggish timetable, Mr Morrison suggested virus-ravaged countries like Britain had been forced to take risks with emergency approvals. “Australia is not in an emergency situation like the United Kingdom. So we don’t have to cut corners. We don’t have to take unnecessary risks,” the conservative leader told local radio 3AW. “They’re not testing batches of vaccines before they’re disseminated across the population, is my understanding,” Mr Morrison said.” – Daily Telegraph

Macron mocked as France manages to give vaccine to only 500

“The French government came under withering fire yesterday over fresh obstacles to vaccination in France, including the creation of a 35-member “citizens’ council” to monitor and advise the government on the inoculations. The body, made up of members of the public drawn at random, is part of the response to the yellow vest protest movement of 2018-19 and is intended to counter fears that the state is forcing a dangerous vaccine on to the people, who are the most sceptical of vaccines in Europe, polls show. Bureaucracy and elaborate measures needing the written consent of Europe’s most vaccine-hostile population were blamed for what doctors, opposition politicians and commentators called a fiasco since December 27, when some European nations began injections.” – The Times

Tom Harris: Captain Hindsight is now mimicking the Prime Minister in real time

“Yesterday, with speculation mounting that the prime minister was about to introduce stricter measures to counter the virus, the Labour leader told the media: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in … many parts of the country … I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.” Presumably having eaten a third Weetabix, Starmer grew positively pugilistic: “We can’t allow the prime minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in the national lockdown that is inevitable. Do it now. That’s the necessary first step to get the virus back under control.” Strong stuff. A refreshing show of leadership when the country needs it most. Perhaps.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief