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All schools in Preston and Lancashire to close until mid-February as third national lockdown begins in England

Posted on - 4th January, 2021 - 8:12pm | Author - | Posted in - Fylde News, Health, Politics, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, South Ribble News, Wyre News
Preston skyline with a sprinkling of snow and ice Pic: Mick Gardner
Preston skyline with a sprinkling of snow and ice Pic: Mick Gardner

All schools are to be closed until February half-term as England enters a third national lockdown.

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Preston and Lancashire will move from tier-4 restrictions into the new national lockdown measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation during Monday (4 January) to say the third lockdown would last until mid-February and urged people to start following the new rules from tonight.

Mr Johnson said primary schools, secondary schools and colleges must move to remote learning immediately – apart from to offer teaching to children of key workers and those considered vulnerable. Nurseries are unaffected by the closure order and can continue to operate.

Exams due to take place in the summer are due to be delayed the education secretary and Ofqual are due to announce further information in the coming days.

Boris Johnson addressing the national during Monday (4 January) evening Pic: YouTube/DowningStreet
Boris Johnson addressing the national during Monday (4 January) evening Pic: YouTube/DowningStreet

Mr Johnson said: “We have been doing everything in our power to keep schools open as we know each day in education is so crucial.

“Schools may act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

Universities have been told to move to remote learning until mid-February, apart from for a small number of courses including health and medical courses.

Read more: Preston City Council leader reacts to third national lockdown

Mr Johnson said rapidly rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions meant the country had moved to ‘level five’ in the five-levels Covid alert system.

Mr Johnson said: “It is frustrating and alarming how the speed of the new variant is spreading.

“You’re now much more likely to catch the virus and pass it on.”

This meant there was a risk of the NHS being overwhelmed.

Covid-19 case rates in England are now three times the level they were at in early December and the country is 40 per cent above the hospital admissions seen during the Spring 2020 lockdown.

See the latest coronavirus cases and information near you

The government is now asking everyone to ‘stay at home’, only leaving the house for a small number of essential reasons.

You are allowed to leave your house only if you need to go to work, where it’s not possible to work from home.

To shop for necessities including food and medicine.

You can exercise, with up to one other person from outside your household or bubble. The exercise should be limited to once per day and you should remain local.

You can go out to help or care for a vulnerable person and to attend medical appointments or seek medical care, or if you’re fleeing threat of harm of violence.

Police will have legal powers to fine people and issue dispersal orders for not following the restrictions.

Other restrictions being changed is that takeaway alcohol can no longer be sold by restaurants or pubs.

You won't be able to get a takeaway pint from anywhere under the new restrictions Pic: Tony Worrall
You won’t be able to get a takeaway pint from anywhere under the new restrictions Pic: Tony Worrall

The government says this is due to ‘gatherings’ outside establishments selling takeaway alcohol. Alcohol can still be sold in shops.

Advice for people who were shielding during the first lockdown is expected to be updated, with those with underlying health conditions due to be told to avoid going out wherever possible.

You can watch the Prime Minister’s full statement here

The Prime Minister urged people to follow the new rules ‘immediately’ and not wait for them to become law – which is due to be the early hours of Wednesday (6 January).

MPs have yet to vote on the new restrictions, with Parliament expected to sit on Wednesday to approve the restrictions and they will become law at that point.

What about the vaccine?

The Prime Minister said the NHS estimate was by mid-February the first vaccine would have been given to everyone in the four top priority groups.

This would mean vaccinating all residents in a care home, everyone over age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

He said we ‘must remain cautious’ about timetable ahead.

The lockdown will be reviewed in mid-February and the Prime Minister urged people to follow the rules to ensure we could return to tier-based measures.

He said: “With every jab that goes into our arms, we’re tilting the odds against Covid, and towards the British people.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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