Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to make a televised address this evening to outline tougher steps to tackle the rise in coronavirus cases, Downing Street has announced.
Parliament is also set to be recalled to sit on Wednesday, January 6, as it comes under increasing pressure to announce a full, England-wide lockdown.
The announcement of a televised press conference to be made at 8pm – comes as firms across the country brace themselves for lockdown, following Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s refusal to rule out imposing tougher restrictions.
The Prime Minister will at least bring more regions under the highest Tier 4 measures, which would result in Tier 3 areas such as the Liverpool City Region, Shropshire, Yorkshire, Somerset and Herefordshire move up.
The Government’s Covid-O committee is understood to have been meeting today to decide whether a third national lockdown is required.
Mr Johnson confirmed the government will be introducing new measures to tackle rapidly rising coronavirus cases across the country.
He warned of “tough, tough” weeks to come during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in North London.
Mr Johnson was at the hospital to meet some of the first people to receive the Oxford vaccine this morning.
He said there were “tough tough” weeks to come and added: “If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.”
A No 10 spokesman said that the move was in response to the “rapidly escalating” numbers of infections following the emergence of the new variant.
The statement, to be made at 8pm on Monday, January 4 will be followed by the recall of Parliament on Wednesday so MPs can debate the measures.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
“The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Responding to the announcement of the Prime Minister’s statement and the recall of Parliament, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I hope the Prime Minister has been listening to the clear calls for tough national restrictions.”
He said new measures were needed to “get the virus under control, protect the NHS and create the space for the vaccine to be rolled out as quickly as humanly possible”.
Meanwhile, most of Scotland will be placed in lockdown from Tuesday, January 5, for the whole of January to tackle the rising spread of the new coronavirus strain, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The First Minister said a legally-enforceable stay-at-home order will apply from Tuesday to areas currently under Level 4 – mainland Scotland and Skye – with exemptions in place for carers, essential shopping, unlimited outdoor exercise and being part of an extended household.
Schools and nurseries will remain closed to most pupils until February, meaning an additional two weeks of home learning for most pupils.
Ms Sturgeon announced the changes in a statement at the Scottish Parliament, which was recalled from recess to discuss stricter measures, telling MSPs taking no action could see Covid-19 capacity in hospitals overrun within “three or four weeks”.
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