Stay at home. protect the NHS, Save Lives

Here is the text of the Prime Minister's address to the nation this evening:

"Since the pandemic began last year, the whole United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight Covid.

And there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work.

But we now have a new variant of the virus. It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading.

Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible – that means you are much, much more likely to catch the virus and to pass it on.

As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

In England alone, the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000.

That number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April.

On 29 December, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record.

The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week and will sadly rise further. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones.

With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.

In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant.

That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home.

You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.

The full details on what you can and can’t do will be available at

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, we are advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you.

And because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Everyone will still be able to access early years settings such as nurseries.

We recognise that this will mean it is not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal. The Education Secretary will work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements.

We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we’ll distribute more devices to support remote education.

I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country.

Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner.

The answer is simply that we have been doing everything in our power to keep schools open, because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances.

And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid.

The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.

Today the United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officers have advised that the country should move to alert level 5, meaning that if action is not taken NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days.

Of course, there is one huge difference compared to last year.

We are now rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our history.

So far, we in the UK have vaccinated more people than the rest of Europe combined.

With the arrival today of the UK’s own Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine, the pace of vaccination is accelerating.

I can share with you tonight the NHS’s realistic expectations for the vaccination programme in the coming weeks.

By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.

And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.

I must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity.

And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted.

So we should remain cautious about the timetable ahead.

But if our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically once again…

If the rollout of the vaccine programme continues to be successful…

If deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect…

And, critically, if everyone plays their part by following the rules…

Then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half term and starting, cautiously, to move regions down the tiers.

I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus.

But now more than ever, we must pull together.

You should follow the new rules from now, and they will become law in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Parliament will meet – largely remotely – later that day.

I know that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland share my conviction this is a pivotal moment and they’re taking similar steps.

The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle.

Because with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people.

And, thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight and we know exactly how we will get there.

But for now, I am afraid, you must once again stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."


Jim said…

"That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home" - Boris Johnston.

Not only the fact that it is not the job of the governement to do such things, showing clearly its been a grab for power from the start, but also its senseless as its now lockdown number 3, if lockdowns worked we would not have had a second one.

Insantity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results - Albert Einstein.

The current administration are genuinly hopeless, I often say that I dont think they have done anything regarding covid that I could have agreed with. the four huge failures at the start still have not been answered, then came the whole cummings thing. Sorry, my error, I agreed with them opening schools, and opening gyms in tier 3. Next thing.............

thats corona of course which wasnt what they were elected to do, they were elected to sort brexit and royally cocked that up as well.

Incompetent does not cut it. Its clear the Oaf needs to be removed but sadly it wont be enough, he is in there becasue there was no one better and comrade corbyn would have been even worse (hard to imagine I know). Sadly we are at the point of North Korea, Kim Jong Un was the best candidate at their last election, that is quite true, that does not mean Kim Jong Un is a good person to be leading a government. Sadly our system is just as bad.

One of the points of flexit was that it is pointless to take control and our soverignty back from the EU only to hand it back to the very muppets who gave it away in the first place, sadly i fear the problem is much worse in that after over 40 years of letting the EU run the main things, we have a much worse bunch of muppets.

Anonymous said…
"Take back control" - Boris Johnston
Chris Whiteside said…
The executive does not have that power, but parliament does, and has used it.

Nobody likes this situation, it is not normal, we want to get millions of people vaccinated as soon as possible so we can all go back to something closer to normal and there is no need for Westminster to tell people how to live their lives.

Unfortunately we are not yet in that situation, and the grim reality is that unless all of us adjust how we behave there will be tens of thousands of avoidable premature deaths.

To be brutally honest, if another lockdown had not been called the NHS, both here in Cumbria and in almost all the rest of the country, would have gone from being under enormous pressure, as it is today, to being overwhelmed.

The first two lockdowns did work against the first version of the Coronavirus. They succeeded in getting the infection rates down.

What lockdowns do not and cannot do is eradicate a virus, which is why for a longer-lasting and sustainable solution we need to get much of the population including almost everyone in one of the most vulnerable groups vaccinated.

Until then the choice is between lockdown and letting the new variant of the coronavirus cause another massive wave of deaths, and I don't think any responsible government could or should allow that to happen.

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