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Here's what you need to know about the new national lockdown measures

Tonight, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged the country back into national lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

It is the third time the nation has been subjected to such strict restrictions - the first time in March, the second in November.

Boris Johnson addressed the nation tonight. Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson addressed the nation tonight. Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street

Since then, we have adhered to tiered rules, with Kent placed into Tier 4, the toughest, just before Christmas.

But now, with Covid-19 cases still on the rise and pressure on hospitals mounting, Mr Johnson says the restrictions must go further.

They come into effect from tomorrow and will be made law on Wednesday.

So what does the new national lockdown mean for Kent? How different will it be from life under Tier 4?

We take a look at all the changes taking place across the county, and indeed the country.

All schools have been ordered to close
All schools have been ordered to close


Despite declaring schools 'safe' only yesterday, Mr Johnson has now said that all schools - primary, secondary and colleges - are to close.

This is to all pupils, except those deemed vulnerable and children of key workers.

All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Those entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them.

In Kent, this means primary schools in Thanet, Folkestone, Canterbury and Dover which reopened today must close from tomorrow.

Schools in all other parts of the county had already been ordered to shut and there was a delayed start planned for secondary school pupils.

University students will not be allowed to return to campus and will be expected to study from their current residence.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary.

Cases continue to rise
Cases continue to rise

You may leave home to shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person, or go to work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home. This includes those working in the construction sector or who are critical workers. Cleaners and other trades people will still be able to work in people’s homes.

You can still exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, and this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can also leave home to meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one, or to seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm including domestic abuse, or to attend education or childcare for those eligible.

Mixing households

The mixing of households has been significantly restricted since November, with the vast majority of people only permitted to meet with one other person from outside their household in an outdoor public space.

However, there are some exceptions, such as support bubbles, allowing those at risk of isolation or loneliness to still receive vital contact.

This has also changed tonight.

Tougher measures will come into force from midnight
Tougher measures will come into force from midnight

Now, you cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with, unless for exercise.


Outdoor exercise will still be permitted under the new lockdown. You may exercise with members of your household or support bubble or one other person from another household, such as if going for a walk or run.

This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

Premier League football and other elite sports that already have in place strict testing regimes and their own bubbles will be allowed to continue.

Sports facilities, such as golf courses and tennis courts, must close.


Supermarkets, builders’ merchants and garden centres can stay open - but all other shops must remain closed such as in tier 4.

Restaurants and other hospitality venues can continue delivery or takeaway, but people will not be able to add alcohol to that order.

Places of worship

Places of worship can remain open for individual prayers and communal worship, but people should only visit with their household or support bubble.

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with strict limits on attendance.


Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and who were previously told to shield should stay at home and only leave for medical appointments and exercise.

They are advised not to go to work even if they cannot work from home.

Why now?

Cases are still rising across the country and county, due to a new fast-spreading variant of the virus.

Today, daily figures showed a further 58,784 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the country.

It means the UK has passed the milestone of 50,000 infections every day for a week.

In Kent, there have been 11,548 cases in the last seven days.

And the Folkestone and Hythe district is now reporting the highest coronavirus death rate in the UK.

Alert level

The Covid alert level has now been moved from level 4 to level 5.

A joint statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers today said: "Many parts of the health systems in the 4 nations are already under immense pressure.

"There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of Covid patients in hospitals and in intensive care.

"Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant.

"We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days."

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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