British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated Wednesday that the coronavirus lockdown in England will stay in place till at the least March Eight as he dominated out any imminent return to high school for many college students.

In a press release to lawmakers, Johnson additionally confirmed new restrictions for vacationers arriving in England from international locations the place the federal government thinks there’s a danger of identified variants of the coronavirus.

He stated the U.Okay. stays in a “perilous situation” with greater than 37,000 sufferers hospitalized with COVID-19, practically double the quantity in the course of the nation’s earlier peak in April.

While dashing hopes that college students would return to lecture rooms after a mid-February college break, Johnson cautioned that the March Eight goal is an aspiration depending on progress on the vaccination entrance.

“The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms,” he said.

England’s schools are closed to all students bar those deemed to be vulnerable and children of key workers, such as doctors and delivery drivers. The same applies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Johnson said he hoped that by Feb. 15, the four most vulnerable groups will have got their first vaccine jabs, which will give them a level of immunity within three weeks.

“We hope it will therefore be safe to begin the reopening of schools from Monday, March 8 with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter as and when the data permits ” he said.

Johnson’s announcement points to shops selling non-essential items and pubs and restaurants remaining closed for longer. He said he hoped a plan for the “gradual and phased” easing of the lockdown shall be unveiled within the week commencing Feb. 22.

Johnson additionally set out more durable measures to restrict the probabilities of new variants of the coronavirus being seeded in England. He confirmed plans for a 10-day quarantine in inns or different government-provided lodging for anybody arriving from 22 hotspot international locations, together with South Africa, Portugal and all in South America.

Given journey bans are already in place for these international locations, the quarantine measures will largely apply to British residents, who may even should pay for his or her resort stays.

“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine,” he stated.

In addition, he stated anybody leaving England shall be requested the explanations behind their journey and shall be instructed to go residence if they don’t have a legitimate purpose to journey” Under lockdown restrictions, holidays overseas are usually not allowed. He stated discussions are going down so the principles apply throughout the U.Okay.

Further particulars of the quarantine plan shall be unveiled subsequent week although critics are saying the federal government ought to have mandated quarantines for each arrival.

On Tuesday, the U.Okay. turned the fifth nation to file greater than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The U.Okay. is the smallest to breach that threshold, and has one of many world’s worst COVID-19-related mortality charges.

Johnson has come beneath renewed fireplace for his dealing with of the pandemic, particularly for being too sluggish in making powerful choices. He is being criticized for delaying the most recent lockdown after scientists had knowledgeable him on Dec. 18 {that a} new variant of the virus first recognized in London and the southeast of England was as much as 70% extra infectious than the unique coronavirus pressure.

The lockdown solely got here into drive on Jan. 5, a delay that critics say fueled the fast improve in new coronavirus infections across the flip of the yr, and the following acute stress on hospitals and deaths.

“Fifty thousand people have died since Nov. 11 — 50,000 deaths in 77 days,” Keir Starmer, the chief of the primary opposition Labour Party, stated. “In isolation, any of these mistakes are perhaps understandable. Taken together it’s a damning indictment of how the government has handled this pandemic.”

Though there’s proof the lockdown has lowered instances, infections are nonetheless operating at comparatively excessive ranges and are liable to rise sharply once more if restrictions are relaxed too quickly and an excessive amount of.

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