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England enters day one of second lockdown as Wales emerges from 'firebreak'

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Trafalgar Square as London enters second lockdown
Trafalgar Square as London enters second lockdown   -   Copyright  AFP
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As England embarks on four weeks of lockdown, Wales is coming to the end of a two week “firebreak”.

The devolved government in Cardiff listened to the UK government’s scientific advisers who warned six weeks ago that a short lockdown was needed to contain the surge in new cases.

Many owners of English bars and restaurants wonder if Boris Johnson had acted sooner, would they need to lock down for so long?

The UK Prime Minister is under pressure from competing camps within his own Conservative party. Most accept the need for another lockdown but 34 of his MPs voted against it in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Announcing the lockdown last weekend, Johnson said he would “seek” to end it on December 2 but subsequently he hardened his language to say that it would end in four weeks. But ominously, another of his top team - paymaster general Penny Mordaunt - has warned that a third wave of the virus could become a reality and that further lockdowns could be necessary.

Under the reimposed measures, people have been told to stay at home, and non-essential shops, pubs and gyms were ordered to close.

Households are also banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, unless in a support bubble.

Organisers of large gatherings face a £10,000 fine, and there is a £200 fine for each breach which doubles on every offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

It all comes as the UK recorded a further 492 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday - the highest daily figure since 19 May - when 500 deaths were reported.

Meanwhile, the government and the Bank of England joined forces Thursday to provide further financial support to people.

The central bank increased its monetary stimulus by £150bn whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the government's salary support program until the end of March.

The extension of the program sees the government pay 80% of wages of people retained by firms rather than being made redundant.

However, the scheme has been criticised because of the thousands who have fallen through the cracks of it, unable to access any help at all.