U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that England will enter a six-week lockdown, as the spread of a highly contagious new variant threatens to overwhelm the National Health Service.
Why it matters: It's England's third national lockdown, following the initial March restrictions during the start of the pandemic and a four-week "circuit-breaker" in November.
- Large portions of the U.K. had already been under various degrees of lockdown, and Scotland imposed a month-long national lockdown earlier on Monday.
- A statement from the U.K.'s chief medical officers on Monday urged Johnson to move the U.K. COVID-19 alert level from "Level 4" to "Level 5," warning of a "material risk" of hospital systems being overwhelmed in the next 21 days.
Details: Under the new restrictions, people in England will be mandated to stay home until mid-February, with exceptions for leaving home for exercise, health care, shopping for necessities and avoiding domestic violence.
- Unlike the second national lockdown, schools and colleges will be closed and moved entirely to remote learning.
- "With most of the country already in extreme measure, it's clear we need to do more together to get this virus under control...that means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home," Johnson said in a national address.
Between the lines: The new variant of the coronavirus has been found to have a greater degree of transmissibility, but there is "no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy," per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The big picture: The fresh lockdown comes as more than a million people in the U.K. have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
- The U.K. was the first country to roll out both the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine for emergency use.
- 82-year-old Brian Pinker on Monday became the first person in the world to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine outside of clinical trials.