Covid RECAP: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a month-long lockdown for England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held a press conference where he has told members of the public across England to “stay at home”

Saturday, 31st October 2020, 7:47 pm

The lockdown is set to last from Thursday, November 5 until Wednesday, December 2 – however schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

Pubs, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms will have to close across England.

Boris Johnson also stated that the manufacturing and construction industry will remain open throughout the four-week period.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second national lockdown for England. Photo: PA.

The furlough scheme, which was due to end today (Saturday, October 31) will now be extended and will see the Government pay 80% towards employee’s wages.

Scroll down to read the developments on the second national lockdown as they happened.

Live coronavirus updates: Saturday, October 31

Last updated: Saturday, 31 October, 2020, 19:06

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to address the country following reports of a second national lockdown.
  • Media reports suggest it will last until early December.
  • The PM has held a cabinet meeting this afternoon.

Boris Johnson set to hold Downing Street press conference

The Prime Minister will begin the press conference at 5pm where it is expected that he will announce a second national lockdown for England.

Media reports suggest that the lockdown will be a month long, lasting until around early December.

A further 208 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 32,855, NHS England said on Saturday.

Patients were aged between 26 and 101. All except eight, aged between 47 and 101 years old, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between October 21 and October 30.

Schools, colleges and universities set to remain open

Media reports are suggesting that schools, colleges and universities will remain open despite a second national lockdown for England.

Parliament and the court system are also expected to carry on as normal.

The Prime Minister has held a cabinet meeting

Boris Johnson has held a cabinet meeting this afternoon ahead of a 5pm press conference from Downing Street.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Cabinet will meet at 1.30pm today to discuss the Government’s coronavirus response.”

Who will be at this afternoon’s press conference?

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host the press conference, live from Downing Street this afternoon.

He will be joined by Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Press conference start time delayed

This afternoon’s press conference has now been delayed until 6.30pm.

It was due to start at 5pm.

Across the UK on Saturday, October 31, 21,915 more people had tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 1,011,660.  

Sunderland saw 130 new cases, bringing the total to 7,307.

A further 62 were recorded in South Shields, with the total standing at 3,637.

In Hartlepool, there was an increase of 55 to bring the total to 2,293.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall described the new restrictions as “a devastating blow” to business communities

Market confidence has been “hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach” taken by governments across the UK during the pandemic.

He said: “Many firms are in a much weaker position now than at the start of the pandemic, making it far more challenging to survive extended closures or demand restrictions.”

He called for Government support for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, to be boosted.

He said: “The Government must not squander the time afforded to them through another lockdown to enable mass testing and fix test and trace systems – which hold the key to a lasting exit strategy for both public health and the economy.”

North East England Chamber of Commerce sets out five things they want to see the Government meet over lockdown

James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “Any restrictions imposed on our communities and companies must meet five business tests.

EVIDENCE: Are the restrictions evidence-based and targeted effectively?

CLARITY: Are the restrictions clear and do businesses have time to prepare?

SUPPORT: Is support for businesses commensurate with the impact on them?

TESTING: How will the time be used to fix the Test, Trace and Isolate system?

EXIT STRATEGY: Is there a clear process for increasing and decreasing restrictions?  

The press conference has started

This evening’s Downing Street press conference is underway.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is joined by Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The R rate is raising across the country apart from the North East

Professor Chris Whitty shows a number of graphs which depicts the R rate rising across the country.

The North East is the only region in England were the R rate is flattening out.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England welcomes the suggestion that they will remain open

She tweeted: “Suggestions that schools will stay open during a forthcoming lockdown are very welcome. 

“We’ve always said that schools should be the last to shut and first to open. 

”It would be a disaster for children’s well-being and education if they were to close.”

Professor Chris Whitty warned that the prevalence of coronavirus has been increasing “extremely rapidly” in recent weeks

Citing Office for National Statistics data, the chief medical officer for England told the Downing Street press conference: “The prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks, having been very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over spring and summer.

“And we now have around 50,000 new cases a day and that is rising.”

Virus is spreading “even faster than the worst case scenario"

Boris Johnson has said that Covid-19 is spreading across the country “even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario”.

The PM has also claimed that he still believes in local measures and that he hoped strong local action would have been enough to get the R rate down.

Professor Chris Whitty said the number of people in NHS beds in England will exceed the peak of the first wave without further measures

The chief medical officer for England told the Downing Street press conference there is an increase in prevalence “in virtually every part of the country”, apart from possibly the North East where stricter measures are in place, and cases are not constrained to one age group.

Discussing NHS bed use in England, he said: “Currently only in the North West is this coming close to the peak that we previously had, but it is increasing in every area.

“And if we do nothing, the inevitable result is these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak that we saw in the spring of this year.”

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