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Covid-19: England's third lockdown legally kicks in

Covid-19: Englands third lockdown legally kicks in
London: Amidst reports of increased cases of the new corona virus variant, England has legally put in force its third national lockdown, and MPs will vote retrospectively on it later.

With the step of England, all of the UK is now under strict virus curbs, with Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland also in lockdown, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The measures, including a stay-at-home order and the closure of schools to most pupils, were announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday.

It comes after the number of new daily confirmed cases of Covid in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time.

And it is believed that one in 50 people in private households in England had the virus last week - rising to one in 30 in London.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics also suggested more than one million people in England had Covid between December 27 and January 2.

At a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, Johnson said he had "no choice" but to impose the latest lockdown in light of the latest figures, with the number of patients in hospitals 40 per cent higher than in the first peak.

He would not guarantee that all children would be back in school before the summer holidays but insisted he was full of "optimism and fundamental hope" that things will be different in the spring.

The need to debate and vote on the measures means the House of Commons has been recalled from its Christmas recess for the second time - the first being for the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Johnson is expected to update MPs, most of whom will not physically be in the chamber, on the new rules before the vote, which is due in the evening.

The regulations, which allow the lockdown to be in place until the end of March, are expected to pass with ease - as Labour is set to support the motion.

Under the new restrictions, people in England will be able to go out only for essential reasons, outdoor exercises will only be allowed once a day, and outdoor sports venues must close.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is to make a Commons statement later about the cancellation of A-Level and GCSE exams in England.

Any protests by Conservative MPs is expected to be smaller than those seen late last year on restrictions.

On Tuesday, Johnson said that by mid-February - with hopes for the vaccine rollout - there is the "prospect" of beginning the relaxation of some measures.

(Abridged from IANS feed with edits)

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