PM to set out ‘further steps’ to combat COVID spread in TV address at 8pm
Written by on 4 January 2021
Boris Johnson will make a TV address tonight to set out “further steps” to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The prime minister is expected to speak at 8pm, while the House of Commons will be recalled from its current recess to sit on Wednesday amid calls for a third national lockdown in England.
‘Tough, tough weeks ahead’
A Number 10 spokesman said: “The spread of the new variant of COVID-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
“The prime minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
“He will set those out this evening.”
Earlier on Monday, Mr Johnson had warned there was “no question we will have to take tougher measures” and vowed the government would “do everything we can to keep the virus under control”.
On a visit to a vaccination centre as the national rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine got under way, the prime minister said there were “tough, tough” weeks ahead in the UK’s fight against COVID-19.
He spoke shortly before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a nationwide lockdown will be introduced in Scotland from midnight tonight.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Sunday demanded a national lockdown in England within 24 hours.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was beaten to the Conservative leadership by Mr Johnson in 2019, has also called for action “right away” in a bid to ease “off-the-scale” pressures on hospitals.
Mr Hunt, now the chair of the House of Commons health committee, wants all schools to be closed, international travel to be stopped, and all household mixing to be banned.
“In the face of exponential growth even waiting an extra day causes many avoidable deaths,” he said.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and London mayor Sadiq Khan are also among those to have called for a third lockdown in England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out a new national lockdown for England during a Sky News interview on Monday.
He warned the new coronavirus variant was “much easier to catch”, with the effect now being seen in “lots of different parts of the country”.
On Sunday, the UK recorded more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row – as the total number of COVID-19 deaths passed 75,000.
In a note sent to MPs on Monday, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle revealed the House of Commons will sit from 11.30am on Wednesday in order to hear a statement from Mr Johnson and to debate public health regulations.
“As per my advice on the previous recall, I would strongly urge you NOT to physically come to Westminster to participate in any business unless absolutely necessary due to the current severe public health situation,” Sir Lindsay said.