Following the Prime Minister's address on Monday 4th January the constituency of Brentwood and Ongar, along with the rest of England, has now been placed under tightened lockdown restrictions. A vote is due to take place in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday to retrospectively approve the restrictions into law however, you must follow the rules from now. As a result, I would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the information below, which details the restrictions that will be in place.
From this (5th Jan) morning, you must once again stay home:
- You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials.
- You should work from home unless you absolutely cannot.
- If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again.
Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England are closed except for children of critical workers and the most vulnerable, as one of our latest measures to slow the spread of the virus.
In response, the Chancellor has announced £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support business and protect jobs as the nation stays at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
Full details of what you can and cannot do under these tighter restrictions can be found here.
In his address the Prime Minister stressed that
On 29 December, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record.
The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week and will sadly rise further. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones.
With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.
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.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you."
Regarding education, the Prime Minister said:
And because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
Everyone will still be able to access early years settings such as nurseries.
We recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal. The Education Secretary will work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements.
We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we’ll distribute more devices to support remote education.
And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.
The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households."
Regarding vaccination and the lockdown timetable:
By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.
And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.
I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.
And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted.
So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead."
The Prime Minister and all of my colleagues across Government appreciate the inconvenience, frustration and uncertainty that this announcement brings, which is why I echo the words of the Prime Minister when he said I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus.
But now more than ever, we must pull together.