Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four – week coronavirus lockdown across England , a dramatic shift in strategy following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed within weeks under his current system of localised restrictions .
Under the stringent new rules set to come into force from Thursday , people must stay at home except in cases where exemptions apply , such as for work , education or exercise , while all but essential shops will close .
In contrast to the months- long UK – wide lockdown earlier this year , schools , colleges and universities will remain open .
But pubs and restaurants will shut unless serving takeaway food , while all leisure and entertainment venues and non -essential shops will close .
The restrictions are planned to end on December 2 .
“ Now is the time to take action because there ’ s no alternative , ” Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference after convening his Cabinet earlier in the day to sign off on the plan .
“ We have got to be humble in the face of nature . In this country , alas , as in much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst – case scenario of our scientific advisers, ” he added .