England Is About to Start Its Second Lockdown — Here's What That Means for Travelers

commuters walking over London Bridge

As the new wave of coronavirus cases sweeps across the world — with cases in Europe doubling in the last five weeks, as Reuters reported — England is taking action and imposing a second nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday.

Parliament will vote on the restrictions on Wednesday, which would go into effect Thursday, Nov. 5 and last for four weeks, until Wednesday, Dec. 2, according to the government’s site. Among the restrictions: Requiring people to stay at home except for specific purposes, including childcare, education, work that can’t be done online, and shopping for essential needs; preventing gatherings with those outside of an established “support bubble"; and closing businesses, including gyms, salons, sports, entertainment venues, and non-essential retailers. Restaurants and pubs must also close, but can provide takeout and delivery except for alcoholic beverages. 

The timing of the action is an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 before the year-end holidays. “Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it's my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together,” Johnson — who was hospitalized for three nights with the coronavirus in the spring — said, according to the BBC.

The new measures are less restrictive than the first nationwide lockdown in the spring, since schools can remain open this time. 

Each country in the United Kingdom has its own restrictions: Northern Ireland and Wales have already implemented their own varying lockdowns, while Scotland is in the midst of deciding on its policy.

On Sunday, the United Kingdom had 23,254 new coronavirus cases and 162 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, the BBC said. The UK currently has the ninth highest number of cases globally, with 1,038,059 recorded since the pandemic started, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

While the continent of Europe has 10% of the global population, 22% of the world’s cases are within its borders, adding up to 46.3 million infections and about 269,000 deaths, Reuters reported.

As of now, flights between the U.S. and the UK are still flying, though scaled back. There are 13 “funnel” airports in the U.S. — including New York City’s John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International — allowed to transport passengers to and from the UK. 

American citizens arriving from the United States must also follow the current 14-day quarantine requirement upon arrival — with the possibility of being contacted to verify compliance, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom Kingdom site. The only exception is if you’re arriving from a country within the designated corridor — and have spent the last 14 days there.

After the quarantine period, the same restrictions for the rest of the country remain in place through Dec. 2. As of now, the hope is that restrictions will be eased after that date and a tiered system will be implemented, the BBC said.

“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” Johnson said at the Saturday press conference, according to The New York Times. “In this county, alas, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenarios of our scientific advisers.”

England joins other major European nations taking serious action during the global pandemic to fight off the new wave of the coronavirus, which has affected 46,643,798 people around the world, with 1,202,013 having lost their lives to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins. France and Germany also announced lockdown restrictions last week.

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