Katy Balls

Prime Minister to address nation over new restrictions

Prime Minister to address nation over new restrictions
(Photo by Pippa Fowles / No. 10 Downing Street)
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Boris Johnson will address the nation this evening in an 8 p.m. address over rising coronavirus rates. Ahead of the statement, a No. 10 spokesperson said the Prime Minister is 'clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives'. It's also been announced that parliament will be recalled on Wednesday to debate new measures.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a lockdown in Scotland earlier today while Keir Starmer and Jeremy Hunt called for further measures in England. The expectation among MPs now is that the PM will likely announce some form of national lockdown – whether by name or placing the whole of England under Tier 4 along with potential school closures. The government has promised MPs to give them a vote on national measures — as opposed to regional ones — so the early return of MPs to debate the measures suggests new restrictions could be national.

As Matt Hancock made clear in his morning broadcast round, the current tier system is no longer viewed as sufficient in dealing with the new strain of Covid. As a result, it's hard to put a time limit on any new restrictions announced. Ahead of the second national lockdown, Johnson insisted it had a clear time limit of four weeks. This time around ministers are more pessimistic and believe new measures could be in place for months. There's a sense that it's a choice now of lockdown or vaccination — restrictions are only likely to be eased when the vulnerable have been vaccinated. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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