Third lockdown begins in UK, stay-at-home order until mid-February

London, January 5

Britain began its third Covid lockdown on Tuesday with citizens under orders to stay at home and the government calling for one last major national effort to stem the virus before mass vaccinations turn the tide.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced a new package of business grants worth 4.6 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) to help keep people in jobs and firms afloat until measures are relaxed gradually, at the earliest from mid-February but likely later.

Rishi Sunak unveils grant for lockdown-hit sectors

London: Indian-origin UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced that businesses in the lockdown-hit sectors, such as retail, hospitality and leisure, are to receive a one-off grant worth up to 9,000 pounds. He said he was putting in place the extra measures worth 4 billion pounds to help such businesses. PTI

Britain has the second highest death toll in Europe. Its economy suffered the sharpest contraction of any in the Group of Seven during the first wave of infections last spring.

PM Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown late on Monday, saying the highly contagious new Covid variant first identified in Britain was spreading so fast the National Health Service (NHS) risked being overwhelmed within 21 days. In England alone, some 27,000 people are in hospital with Covid, 40% more than during the first peak in April, with infection numbers still expected to rise further after increased socialising during the Christmas period.

A Savanta-ComRes poll taken just after Johnson’s address suggested four in five adults in England supported the lockdown. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 75,000 people have died in the United Kingdom within 28 days of testing positive, according to official figures. — Reuters

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