On 4 January 2021, in an address to the nation on coronavirus (that you can download below), the Prime Minister stated that the UK’s Chief Medical Officers have advised that the country should move to alert level 5, “meaning that if action is not taken NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days”, adding that:
In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home. You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.
The new lockdown laws will formally come into force in the early hours of Wednesday 6 January 2020 and will last until at least mid-February 2021.
The government has published updated “National Lockdown: Stay at Home” guidance (that you can also download below), that includes the following within a list of businesses and venues that must close:
- non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services.
- hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.
- accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
- leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
- entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks.
In relation to item 2 above, restaurants and pubs will still be able to sell food and soft drinks for delivery, click-and-collect and takeaway, but they will no longer be able to serve takeaway or click-and-collect alcohol. This will serve to prevent customers from purchasing takeaway alcohol and congregating nearby to consume it.
UPDATE: On 5 January 2021, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told Sky News that the Government “can’t predict with certainty that [it] will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing 15-22 February. What we will be doing is everything that we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated, so that we can begin to progressively lift restrictions”. He added that “as we enter March, we should be able to lift some of these restrictions but not necessarily all”.