British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will impose a new month-long national lockdown in England until Dec. 2, ITV’s political editor said on Saturday.
All but essential shops will be asked to close, and people should no longer meet family or friends indoors, Robert Peston said. Schools, universities and courts will remain open, he said.
It’s not yet clear when the lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 will begin. Media reports have said the measures could go into effect as soon as Monday or possibly on Wednesday. Johnson is expected to announce his government’s plan following a cabinet meeting on Saturday.
The measures would apply only to England. Other parts of the U.K. set their own public health measures, with Wales and Northern Ireland already effectively in lockdown and Scotland under a set of tough regional restrictions.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Saturday that for now, people in Scotland should not travel to or from England, “except for essential purposes.”
London School of Hygiene epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of the U.K. government’s scientific advisory group, said Saturday that cases were running “significantly above” a reasonable worst-case scenario drawn up by modellers.
“It is really unthinkable now, unfortunately, that we don’t count our deaths in tens of thousands from this wave,” Edmunds told the BBC. “The issue is, is that going to be low tens of thousands if we take radical action now or is that going to be the high tens of thousands if we don’t?”
The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the true figure is far higher. The Office for National Statistics estimated on Friday that one in 100 people in England, well over half a million, had the virus in the week to Oct. 23. On Saturday the country is likely to surpass one million confirmed cases since the outbreak began.
Britain has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.