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WESTMINSTER, U.K., January 6, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson has announced the third national lockdown in a supposed effort to combat COVID-19, as people have been ordered by law to remain at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse.”
Johnson made the announcement at 8 P.M. GMT Monday, with members of the U.K. Parliament and the public hearing the news simultaneously via news networks. Parliament has now been recalled and is to vote on the restrictions tomorrow. The previous national lockdown in November 2020 was approved by a vote of 516-38.
Addressing the nation, Johnson declared that hospitals are under “more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic” and consequently that the upcoming weeks will be the “hardest yet.” He justified the restrictions by noting that the U.K.’s chief medical officer (CMO) had advised him that “if action is not taken, NHS capacity may be overwhelmed in 21 days.”
Stay-at-home orders are in place, and violations are punishable by fines of £200 initially and up to a maximum of £6,400. Vast swathes of society have been ordered to close, among them “non-essential” stores, restaurants, hospitality venues, accommodation venues, leisure centers, gyms, and the entertainment industry.
So also have primary and secondary schools been shut, along with colleges and universities, and summer exams are set to be canceled. In fact, in a press conference this afternoon, Johnson refused to confirm if students would be back in classrooms before the summer holidays, saying instead that he had “optimism and fundamental hope” of a change in the spring.
“It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble,” the guidance stipulates. A single dose of exercise is permitted per day and should be in the local area to one’s accommodations.
In a change to the previous two lockdowns, churches are permitted to remain open for both public worship and private prayer.
Johnson heavily linked the lifting of restrictions to the mass rollout of COVID vaccines, saying that if the “top four priority groups” of the populace are vaccinated, “we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus. And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.”
“If the rollout of the vaccine program continues to be successful,” he continued, “if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect, and critically, if everyone plays that part by following the rules, then I hope we can steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers.”
Johnson did not address how the supposedly nearly overwhelmed health system intends to administer the necessary 13,900,000 vaccines by the middle of February.
Nor was any firm end date given for the cessation of the national lockdown, but the amendment to the current legislation suggests that restrictions of this nature could be in place until March 31, 2021. The government furlough scheme, supplementing the wages of those whose jobs have been affected by the lockdowns, has already been extended to the end of April this year.
The new variant of COVID-19, a major justification for the lockdown, is between “50 and 70% more transmissible,” Johnson claimed, yet there have been no data to show that it is any more dangerous than the previous version of the virus. As the Lockdown Sceptics website pointed out, many of the restrictions in the latest lockdown are already part of the strictest in Tier 4, which had been in place across most of the country: “But if the existing restrictions haven’t been sufficient to contain the virus in Tier 4 areas like London, why does Boris think extending those restrictions to the rest of the country will ‘squash the sombrero’?”
Diagnostic pathologist Dr. Clare Craig presented data compiled by quantitative analyst Joel Smalley to show that despite the drastic warnings from the CMO, “[n]et hospital admissions are lower now than at two points in Autumns,” and hospital admissions are normal. Smalley’s charts additionally note that mortality data “show no overall abnormality this winter,” and on the current trajectory, winter deaths could be “substantially lower than the last few years.”
Back in November, Professor Philip Thomas of Bristol University calculated that the U.K. government’s lockdown response to COVID could in fact cause the equivalent of 560,000 deaths. That figure is “rather greater than the UK’s military and civilian losses in the second world war,” Thomas noted.
Professor Chris Whitty, CMO for England, hinted at restrictions becoming a normal occurrence in years ahead. Whitty suggested that while there will come a point in the future when the risk from the virus is “something society is prepared to tolerate” and there are “almost no restrictions at all … we might have to bring in a few in next winter for example, that’s possible, because winter will benefit the virus.”
Scotland, Northern Ireland (N.I.), Wales, and Ireland are also in the midst of restrictive lockdowns. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the restrictions a few hours before Johnson, and in N.I., the current stay-at-home message is to be placed into law, in line with England and Scotland. Wales is in the midst of a national lockdown, which started on December 20 and is due to last for three weeks before then being reviewed. Ireland announced its own national lockdown just before Christmas, which is due to last until the end of January, although “Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned the Cabinet it is unlikely many of the restrictions will be lifted after the mooted end date of January 31st.”
Whilst England, Wales and N.I. have seen the churches permitted to remain open in the lockdowns, Scotland and Ireland have had churches closed. Speaking to LifeSiteNews before Christmas, Anthony Murphy, director of the Lumen Fidei Institute and editor of Catholic Voice magazine, described the ban on Mass in Ireland as “an unjust and discriminatory attack on our faith fuelled by the anti-Catholicism of our political leaders,” adding that “we have a duty to resist this law which takes Ireland back to the penal times.”