The Prime Minister addressed the nation last night following Scotland by putting the country into a total lockdown. All non-essential retail and hospitality are closed (no different to tier four), Schools closed and mixing outside of your household (unless part of a support bubble) are all banned as is leaving your home with the exception of exercise and essential travel. You are permitted to go to work where it is unreasonable to do so from home. The rules essentially follow the restrictions the country faced in March. Lastly and importantly for retail click & collect services can still operate.
The PM did not give any indication when the rules would be reviewed, but he said: 'If our understanding of the virus doesn't change dramatically, once again, if the rollout of the vaccine 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.'
Earlier in the day Scotland was put into total lockdown for the duration of January which will be reviewed at the end of the month, Wales has been in lockdown since the 20th December and Northern Ireland was already two weeks into in to a six week lockdown.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC (British Retail Consortium) had this to say:
“The continued rise in Covid cases over the Christmas period is a significant cause for concern, and we understand the need for the government to act. Retailers have been playing their part to make stores safe, spending hundreds of millions of pounds on coronavirus safety measures, including implementing social distancing measures and increased cleaning procedures.
“The government's testing programme and a rapid roll-out of vaccines are the key to bringing an end to this cycle of lockdowns, and we have made clear to government that the retail industry is willing to make its resources available to support this effort.
"The consequences of these latest restrictions - with non-essential retail already closed for several weeks - will be severe for many businesses who yet again face losing £2bn per week in sales. Already, 178,000 retail jobs have been lost in 2020, and with over 250,000 retail staff currently on furlough, that number could increase dramatically in the new year.
"Retailers want to trade their way to recovery but if they are forced to close then further financial support will be needed or many businesses will go bust and thousands of viable jobs will be lost. The biggest difference the government can make is to extend business rates relief from April for those hardest hit by repeated lockdowns."
It is yet to be seen whether the government will provide any further financial relief for businesses beyond what is already offered.
The new rules in England take place from midnight tonight.