The infection rate in the country has risen sharply for weeks. The Office for National Statistics now estimates that 1 in 100 people in England have Covid-19, compared to 1 in 2,300 in July and 1 in 200 at the start of October.
Johnson’s Cabinet was informed that if no action is taken, the NHS’s bed capacity will be exceeded in the first week of December.
“Normally, advisors advise and ministers who decide. But that system collapsed with Sage [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] Believing that her advice is like commandments written on stone and her members read the government openly via airlines, “wrote Duncan Smith.
In a document released on September 21, the group said that “a package of interventions must be adopted to prevent this accelerating rise in cases,” including the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms.
The new lockdown, which will take effect in England on Thursday morning after the Wednesday vote in Parliament, will see all bars and restaurants shutting down except for fast food and delivery, as well as closing all non-essential business activities including gyms and hair salons. Schools, universities and childcare facilities will remain open.
Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific purposes including education, work (if they cannot work from home), sports, medical problems, or the purchase of food and essential items.
UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said Sunday that the second lockdown of England could be extended beyond December 2 – the point at which the prime minister said he expects to reintroduce the current regional tiered system.
“We’ll look at all the data,” Goff told Sky News. “We have a period of four weeks during which we’re going to review progress, but of course we’ll always be data driven.”
Goff said ministers will review lockdown measures on December 2, with the aim of seeing the R (reproduction) rate – the number of people an infected person infects – less than 1.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer said the lockdown should have been imposed three weeks ago and should now last longer.
“I am very disappointed by the incompetence of the government,” Labor leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. “The government was very slow in the first phase of the epidemic and now it is very slow again, and there is a cost to that. That’s why the lockdown will now last longer.”
Goff told the BBC that he did not accept that the government was wrong and waited too long. “The advice we were getting at the time indicated that the regional approach was well suited,” he said on Andrew Marr’s show.
He added that UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tamm believed the local approach was appropriate, and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said Saturday that there is no ideal time to act.
Backlash for second lockdowns
Elsewhere in Europe, several cities in Spain witnessed a second night of unrest on Saturday, amid protests over tighter restrictions on social activities and movement aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Police arrested 33 people in the Spanish capital, Madrid, yesterday night, after crowds of young men took to the streets. Twelve people, including three police officers, were wounded. Videos posted on social media showed battles taking place in central Madrid, in addition to some damage to shops.
The city’s mayor, Jose Luis Martinez Almeida, called on young people to abide by the night curfew, which was imposed across Spain last week.
There were also unrest in Bilbao and Vitoria in northern Spain, and in Malaga in the south.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez denounced violence and called for unity, writing on Twitter: “Violent and irrational behavior by an intolerable minority.”
Friday night, 12 people were arrested after violent protests broke out in Barcelona.
The Spanish government imposed tighter restrictions on movement and activities amid a second spike in infections. Spain has recorded 1.18 million cases of coronavirus, while more than 35,000 people have died.
Portugal imposed a lockdown on Saturday for most of the country. Starting Wednesday, residents are required to stay home for all but essential excursions. Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited, and no more than six people can sit together in a restaurant, unless they are family members.
All stores and “service establishments” must close at 10 PM, and restaurants must close at 10:30 PM
The new restrictions, in effect at least until November 15, cover 121 municipalities in Portugal, including the capital, Lisbon.
Portugal had its highest daily death toll and number of cases on Friday, with 40 COVID-related deaths and 4,656 new cases of infection. There have been 137,272 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and at least 2,468 people have died.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Saturday that the country will enter a second lockdown on Tuesday at midnight. He said in a press conference that the new measures will continue until the end of the month.
“These are dramatic interventions that are not easy for us – but they are necessary,” Curtis said on his official Twitter account.
Only two families will be allowed to meet and a curfew will be imposed between 8 PM and 6 AM and the shops will remain open.
“We understand that these procedures are unpopular and that they mean a massive freedom restriction. But they are essential to shine a light on our intensive care system,” said Curtis.
“The real breakthrough or end of this epidemic will not happen until a vaccine is searched. I am still optimistic and I believe that we will be able to return to normal life by next summer at the latest.”
Poland recorded a fifth consecutive day of record increases in injuries on Saturday.
The government imposed new restrictions, including closing cemeteries for three days before Halloween Sunday, when many Poles visit the graves of their loved ones.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health reported 21,897 new cases, more than double the number last Monday. It also reported another 280 Covid-related deaths.
The total number of cases in Poland is 362,731, with 5,631 deaths.
7,281 people have been registered in hospitals with the Coronavirus in the Czech Republic, with Covid-related deaths reaching 3,078 and cases of infection 13,605 on Friday, according to the country’s health minister.
The Czech Parliament agreed to extend the state of emergency until November 20, allowing the government to keep strict measures in place for another three weeks. This includes closing schools, restricting movement, and closing many shops and services.
CNN’s Tim Lister, AJ Davis, Sharon Braithwaite, Maria Fleet, Flora Charner, Artur Usinski and Thomas Itzler contributed to this report.