LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that the month-long lockdown in England, which came into force earlier in the day, is enough to “make a real impact” and will end on Dec. 2 as planned.
There is a “light at the end of the tunnel,” the prime minister told a virtual press conference at Downing Street. “The advice I’ve received suggests that four weeks is enough for these measures to make a real impact,” he said.
“These measures, though they are tough, are time-limited,” he added, adding that they will allow as normal a Christmas as possible. Johnson reaffirmed that the national lockdown will end on Dec. 2 before moving back to a tiered system, despite speculation by some senior British officials that the measure could be extended beyond that date. Nevertheless, the prime minister also said the “challenges we face are significant across the UK”. The average number of new cases each day is now 22,398, was up from 9,716 a month ago, he added.
The prime minister urged people to “stay at home” and save the British Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Johnson announced a further 15 million pounds (about 19.6 million U.S. dollars) to help offer safe accommodation for rough sleepers or those at risk of becoming homeless during the lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain. Earlier on Thursday, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme until the end of March.
Under the lockdown, people in England will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons, such as education, work or food shopping. Pubs, bars and restaurants will close across the country except for takeaways. Non-essential shops, hairdressers and leisure and entertainment venues will also be shut.
Meanwhile, different households will be banned from mixing, although support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain. Gyms will be shut but people can continue to exercise outdoors, at most with one person from another household.
Schools, colleges and universities will remain open and those who cannot work from home, such as construction or manufacturing workers, will be encouraged to continue going to their workplaces. Britain is the ninth country to reach the milestone of a million cases after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina and Colombia.To bring life back to normal, countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.