People in all of England and most of Scotland must now stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons, as new lockdowns begin in both nations. Schools have closed to most students in England, Scotland and Wales. However, England’s rules are due to last until at least mid-February; Scotland’s will be reviewed at the end of January.

Boris Johnson, The UK Prime Minister warned the coming weeks would be the hardest yet. Mr. Johnson reimposed a lockdown in England on Monday as a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 fuels a surge in infections and hospitalizations in the country. “It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control,” Johnson said. “That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home.”

During his televised address, Johnson reimposed measures seen during the first lockdown last spring, including closures of secondary and primary schools to all except the children of key workers and vulnerable children. He added that this means it will not be “possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal,” and alternative arrangements are being put in place.

The announcement follows that of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who announced a lockdown earlier. Wales and Northern Ireland — the other nations of the UK — are already in lockdown. Scotland’s lockdown, which is for the mainland and Skye, will also see schools closed to pupils, places of worship closed and group exercise banned.  “It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Wales, which has been in a national lockdown since 20 December, said schools and colleges would shut until 18th of January for most students.  Meanwhile, Northern Ireland, which entered a six-week lockdown on 26 December plans to put its stay-at-home message into law, and will have an “extended period of remote learning”

This lockdown comes after the UK reported a record 58,784 cases on Monday, as well as a further 407 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

He ordered people to stay indoors other than for limited exceptions – such as essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work that cannot be done at home – and said schools and colleges should move to remote teaching for the majority of students until at least half term.

He also mentioned all the care home residents and their carers, everyone aged 70 and over, all frontline health and social care workers, and the clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered one dose of a vaccine by mid-February.

There’s certainly no escaping that this will feel like another sudden and chaotic change of direction for schools and parents.