Four weeks of lockdown in England is “enough” to make a “real impact” on coronavirus infection rates, Boris Johnson has said.
The prime minister spoke at a Downing Street news conference alongside NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, which was held on the first day of England’s second national lockdown.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops are now closed across the country and will stay shut until 2 December.
People have also been told to stay at home except for when attending school, college, university or work, or going food shopping.
“These measures, though they are tough, are time-limited,” Mr Johnson said.
“The advice I’ve received suggests that four weeks is enough for these measures to make a real impact.
“So these rules will expire and on 2 December we plan to move back to a tiered system. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The prime minister reiterated that his UK government and the devolved administrations are “working together on a joint approach to the Christmas period, because all of us want to ensure families can come together, wherever they live”.
Mr Johnson also announced a further £15m would be given to councils to offer safe accommodation for people sleeping rough or at risk of becoming homeless during England’s second lockdown.
Sir Simon warned that the second wave of coronavirus infections was “real and it’s serious”.
He praised the increased uptake of flu vaccinations this winter, as he added: “If you have flu and coronavirus at the same time you are twice as likely to die from coronavirus than you otherwise would.”
Earlier on Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak performed a major U-turn and extended the furlough scheme – which he previously planned to halt last month – until the end of March.
The Bank of England also ramped up its coronavirus crisis support for the UK economy by a further £150bn.
On Wednesday, Sir Simon announced the NHS in England would move to its highest alert level amid the pressure on hospitals from COVID-19.
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