Schools to close as Prime Minister announces another national lockdown

Date published: 04 January 2021

All primary, secondary schools and colleges will close and switch to online learning from tomorrow (Tuesday 5 January), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening in a national address.

England has been moved into Tier 5 - effectively another national lockdown - from midnight tonight, which means you should stay at home except for permitted reasons.

The Prime Minister said that in England, the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the past week to 27,000, 40% higher than the first peak in April.

Like the first lockdown in March, people cannot leave their homes except for certain reasons. These include essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot work from home.

Support and childcare bubbles will continue under the new measures - and people can meet one person from another household for outdoor exercise.

The Prime Minister also said that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable should begin shielding again immediately.

All schools and colleges will close from Tuesday 5 January with remote learning in place until February half term, except for vulnerable children and those of key workers.

Early years settings such as nurseries will stay open.

It was also announced that end-of-year exams will not take place this summer.

University students will not return to campuses and will be taught online.



Earlier today, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) released a statement recommending that the UK Covid-19 alert level move from level 4 to level 5.

In it they said: "Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. 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."

Under Tier 5 restrictions, you may only:

  • Shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
  • Go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • Exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area
  • Meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
  • Seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • Attend education or childcare - for those eligible


The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder; all those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later


The Prime Minister said that the government is aiming to give everyone in the top four priority groups at least one dose of a vaccine by the middle of February. This includes:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those 70 years of age and over
  • clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

You are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable if your clinician or GP has added you to the Shielded Patient List because, based on their clinical judgement, they deem to you be at higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus or if you have a specific condition, including people with severe severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease and people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy.

A full list of conditions that make someone automatically clinically extremely vulnerable is available here.

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