England, the UK’s largest region, will remain in a national lockdown until at least March 8 when schools are set to reopen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
Mr. Johnson made the announcement to Parliament on Wednesday, saying travellers into the UK from high-risk countries would now have to quarantine inside hotels for at least ten days.
The Prime Minister said his Government would produce a “gradual and phased” plan for leaving lockdown on the week of February 22, when more information is known if vaccines reduce transmission of COVID-19, as well as illness and death.
He said he acknowledged the decision will be “frustrating” for students, teachers and parents, but that it was a necessary one as the UK remains in a “perilous” situation with more than 35,000 people in hospital with COVID-19.
“We hope it will therefore be safe to begin the reopening of schools from Monday the 8th of March, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter, as and when the data permits, then or thereafter,” Mr. Johnson told MP’s.
The UK currently has the worst death toll in Europe and the fifth-largest worldwide, with deaths topping 100,000 on Tuesday and that number growing by an additional 1,725 deaths on Wednesday.
The island nation is engaged in a huge vaccination program, having already vaccinated more than 6.6 million people with their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and aiming to have nearly 15 million people from the four most vulnerable groups vaccinated by mid-February.