England’s lockdown to begin in 10 minutes
As of 00:01 GMT England will have entered its second national lockdown, placing 56 million people under new coronavirus restrictions for at least the next four weeks.
Despite a bruising vote in which the prime minister Boris Johnson’s strategy was rejected by dozens of his own MPs, the stay-at-home order was approved in parliament on Wednesday by 516 votes to 38.
The pandemic claimed another 492 lives across the UK on Wednesday – up 24% on the previous day – and saw more than 12,000 people hospitalised.
NHS England warned that within two weeks more hospital beds could be filled than at the peak of the first wave, and said its alert level would rise to 4 from Thursday, meaning the pandemic response would be handled nationally as opposed to regionally.
All non-essential shops and venues will close and, while exemptions for support bubbles and childcare will remain in place, households will be banned from mixing indoors. People have been told to stay at home as much as possible, unless for education, medical appointments, essential goods, or to work if they can’t work from home.
Outdoor exercise is permitted, with members of the same household or one person from another household.People can leave home to care for vulnerable people, or to escape injury or harm. Takeaways and deliveries are still allowed.
Unlike the first national lockdown introduced in March, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, as will childcare and early years care.
Scientists believe the R number is still above 1 in most parts of the country, meaning that even though infection rates are slowing in Liverpool and other tier 3 areas, the decline is not by enough to avoid a prolonged second wave and excess deaths.
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At least six European nations have seen record case rises in the last 24 hours. Russia, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, Latvia and Estonia each confirmed their highest new infections to date. More on this shortly.
Four Italian regions will go into partial lockdown from Friday as the government scrambles to regain control of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- England will enter its second national lockdown at 00:01am GMT, placing 56 million people under new coronavirus restrictions. People will be ordered to stay at home as much as possible from Thursday to combat a surge in new infections that scientists say could, if unchecked, cause more deaths than a first wave that forced a three-month lockdown earlier this year.
- France registered 40,558 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, compared to 36,330 on Tuesday and a record of 52,518 on Monday, health ministry data showed.The total number of cases increased to 1,543,321 but the ministry added that the number of new cases reported on Wednesday was a minimum number due to problems with data gathering.The ministry also reported that the number of people who have died from the virus increased to 38,674, up from 38,289 on Tuesday. It said there were 394 new deaths in hospitals over the past 24 hours.
- Four Italian regions will go into partial lockdown from Friday as the government scrambles to regain control of the coronavirus pandemic. Giuseppe Conte’s government is trying to avoid a full national shutdown and has instead introduced a three-tier system that divides the country’s 20 regions up according to level of risk. The northern regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Aosta Valley, along with Calabria in the south, have been placed in the “red zone”, meaning people will only be able to leave their homes for work, health or emergency reasons and bars, restaurants and non-essential shops – apart from hairdressers – will close. People will be banned from travelling in or out of their regions.
- Cyprus announced a new night-time curfew to combat a resurgence of Covid-19 after a rise in cases in recent weeks. A curfew on movement from 11:00pm to 5:00am will start on Thursday and remain in force until 30 November.
- Irinej, the ageing patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox church, the country’s largest Christian denomination, was hospitalised after testing positive for the coronavirus. Irinej, 90, was “routinely tested following an epidemiological assessment,” and remains “without symptoms and in excellent health”, a statement said. His office said he is hospitalised in a Covid-19 hospital in Belgrade.