On Saturday, Boris Johnson confirmed that England would return to a second national lockdown from Thursday.
The restrictions, which will remain in place until 2 December, include the closure of all non-essential businesses including pubs, restaurants and gyms, a ban on households mixing, and curbs on non-essential travel.
His announcement follows pressure over the past two months from the government’s scientific advisers and Labour to impose a national lockdown as a second wave of COVID-19 developed and cases reached several thousands a day.
Johnson admitted the three-tier system of local lockdowns was not enough to stop the soaring infection rate.
“From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home,” the prime minister said in a televised address from Downing Street.
He said: “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.”
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, told the briefing that modelling suggested the number of deaths over winter could be “twice as bad or more compared to the first wave”.
Some Tory backbenchers opposed to a second lockdown say that the shutdown will "cause more harm than COVID".
Many people oppose the lockdown because of its potential effects on mental health, with many charity organisations calling on the government to learn from mistakes in the first wave and make sure people can get help early on.
Others oppose the measures because they fear the second lockdown will devastate an already fragile economy.