Government extends furlough scheme as PM announces new national lockdown

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has officially extended the government furlough scheme after announcing that England will endure a second national lockdown.

The Prime Minister’s announcement came tonight after it was confirmed that the UK has passed one million Covid-19 cases.

The furlough scheme will continue to cover 80% of employees’ wages, with Rishi Sunak tweeting: “Following the PM’s announcement on further restrictions across the country we have decided to extended the furlough scheme for a further month.”

Johnson says “Christmas will be very different this year” with non-essential shops and hospitality being forced to close once again.

But unlike the first national lockdown, schools and colleges will stay open.

This will last for one month and will come into effect just after midnight on Thursday, ending on December 2.

The news comes following reports that the coronavirus death toll in the UK is on course for being “much higher” than during the first wave.

Restrictions on travel have also been confirmed and will last until December 2.

The Prime Minister was joined by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at tonight’s press briefing, which ran extremely late.

This followed long weekend cabinet talks.

Boris Johnsoon

So what are the new lockdown rules?

  • There will be no mixing of households anywhere in the country, except for in cases where childcare and other forms of support are necessary.
  • Schools and colleges will remain open as normal.
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants will be forced to close for the duration of the lockdown.
  • Non-essential shops will also close.
  • Supermarkets will remain open with strict COVID-secure regulations.
  • All outbound international travel is banned, except for work.
  • Gyms will close, but outdoor exercise will be allowed and “encouraged”.
  • Travel bans will be in place for non-essential journeys.
  • However those who cannot work from home will be allowed to travel to their place of work.

More than a million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the UK since the outbreak began, according to government data.

Another 21,915 confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the exact total since the pandemic began to 1,011,660 – and 326 people were reported to have died within 28 days of a positive test.

This is a breaking news story. More to follow.

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