University students in England are encouraged not to return until at least mid-FebruaryLucas Maddalena

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in a national address this evening (04/01) that England will enter a new national lockdown from Wednesday morning (06/01), after the spread of a new strain of Covid-19 in the UK which is believed to be up to 70% more transmissible.

The imposition of the lockdown comes as the UK recorded 383,834 positive Covid-19 cases and 4,278 deaths in the last seven days, with a record 58,784 daily cases and 407 deaths recorded today (04/01).

The lockdown in England also comes as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier today that Scotland will enter a national lockdown from midnight tonight (05/01) until the end of January.

Under the new lockdown rules, people must stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse,” including essential shopping, outdoor exercise, travel to work where it is not possible to work from home, to receive a COVID-19 test or vaccine, medical assistance or for a person’s safety.

Outdoor exercise can now only take place alone, with one member of a household, or with a member of a support bubble.

The government will also send letters to clinically vulnerable people, instructing them to begin shielding again, with Chief Medical Advisors warning of “a material risk” that the NHS could become overwhelmed within the next 21 days.

In terms of education, primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges, will provide remote teaching from tomorrow (05/01) until the February half term, except for vulnerable children and those whose parents are critical workers. Consequently, the Prime Minister added that “we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned.”


Mountain View

University announces delayed return for Lent Term

While the Prime Minister’s address did not make explicit reference to the implications of the new national lockdown on students returning to universities, updated National Lockdown guidance for England states that any students not on the following courses should remain at home and receive remote online learning until at least mid-February: “Medicine & dentistry, Subjects allied to medicine/health, Veterinary science, Education (initial teacher training), Social work, Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and/or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled.”

The University had announced previously (31/12) that the majority of students would not be able to return for in-person teaching in Lent Term until at least 25th January, under previous government guidance.

Varsity has contacted the University for comment.

The announcement of the national lockdown comes as the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca was today delivered for the first time in the UK. 

Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, said in a press release: “We are at another critical moment in our fight against coronavirus, so I back these tougher restrictions. But I am angry that the government has lost control of the virus and that this means there is so much pressure on our NHS and that schools are closing again.”