The Prime Minister has announced his decision to introduce a new national lockdown effective immediately.
Cases are rising exponentially and our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic. Without decisive action, the Chief Medical Officer has been clear that there is a real risk of the NHS being overwhelmed over the next few weeks.
The Government is therefore once again instructing people to stay at home, except for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, or to seek medical assistance.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, the Government is advising you to begin shielding again and you will shortly receive a letter about what this means for you.
Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from today, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
There are undoubtedly tough weeks ahead - but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in our country's history and the NHS has set a target to vaccinate the four top priority groups by the middle of next month. That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
It is estimated that, taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from Covid-19, so taking them out of the path of this deadly virus will enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.
I am confident that we are entering the final phase of this pandemic but for now it is vitally important that people once again stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.