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Boris Johnson unveils new lockdown for England as schools closed until mid-February

Boris Johnson has announced new coronavirus lockdown measures for England as he warned the weeks ahead would be the “hardest yet”.

The Prime Minister said people in England would once again be asked to “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives” until around mid-February as he unveiled a raft of restrictions, including closing schools.

Mr Johnson said the move was unavoidable as the number of Covid-19 infections “rapidly escalated” following the emergence of new variants of the disease.

It came after the UK’s Covid alert level has now been raised to Level 5 – its highest – meaning “transmission is high or rising exponentially” and “there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”.

Stay at home,’ police chief pleads

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, has urged the public to support the police by staying at home unless it is “absolutely necessary” to go outside.

He said: “With the new variant of the Covid-19 virus spreading so quickly it comes as no surprise that a new lockdown has been put in place. More people are contracting the virus and more are dying from it. Our hospitals are struggling to cope: these are tough times.

“It’s essential that people heed the new rules and stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Police officers will continue to do their best in these unprecedented times but I accept these next few months are going to be difficult on an emotional, psychological and practical level. However, we must all pull together and do our part.

“This has always been about saving lives and supporting our NHS. The vast majority of the public have been supportive of policing in what has been an extraordinary year. I would ask that as we head into another national lockdown, they continue to do the right thing and help to keep people as safe as possible.”

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