On Saturday 31st of October, Boris Johnson announced that as of this Thursday, the 5th of November, England will be entering into another national lockdown for four weeks until the 2nd of December, in an attempt the curb the rising numbers of Covid-19 infections across the country before Christmas.
The new measures will apply to the whole of England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under their own set of restrictions as agreed by their devolved governments. These measures are not quite as severe as the first lockdown introduced in March this year, with schools and universities remaining open.
Until Thursday, the three-tier system is still in place and local restrictions still apply in specified areas.
- People are encouraged to stay at home and work from home if possible, leaving only for essential shopping, recreation, exercise, and work that cannot be done at home
- Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will have to close, but takeaway services can still operate
- No households may mix outside or in private gardens, except those in support bubbles. Children with separated parents may still travel between both
- Clinically vulnerable people and those over 60 are advised to limit social interaction, and not to work if they cannot work from home, but they do not have to shield
- Individuals can meet one person who is not part of their household outside in a public space
- Schools, colleges and universities will remain open
These measures were announced on the day that the cumulative total of confirmed Covid cases in the UK surpassed 1,000,000. It is expected that these new restrictions will last until Wednesday the 2nd of December, but Cabinet Officer Michael Gove has not ruled out the possibility that it could be extended beyond this date, stressing that ‘we do need to get the R rate below 1.’ The R rate is currently between 1.1-1.3, hence the dramatic growth in active cases.
So how does this affect students?
As universities remain open, very little will likely change in terms of teaching, but the prohibition of household mixing will make students much more isolated. The government has also released the following statement regarding movement of students:
‘If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term for Christmas.’
At the moment, it is very unlikely that a dreaded university lockdown over Christmas will happen, purely as it would be unenforceable, although further guidance will be published closer to the time. It is hoped that taking action now will allow families to be together for Christmas.
The new lockdown will be put to Parliament on Monday the 2nd of November, with the measures being debated and voted on Wednesday the 4th, to be implemented on Thursday.
The fundamental message is to stay at home when possible and limit interactions with other people. Socially distance around others, wear a face covering when outside and wash your hands regularly to try and limit the spread of Covid-19.
Latest government advice can be found at gov.uk.