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England’s national lockdown will continue until at least March 8, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

Mr Johnson said that the lockdown, which was originally due to be reviewed in mid-February, will have to stay in place for at least three more weeks due to England’s continued high death toll and thousands of daily new infections.

Non-essential retail must remain closed but essential stores are permitted to stay open. Schools will remain closed after half-term.

Mr Johnson also announced that a review of lockdown measures will now take place in the final week of February.

In the week beginning February 22, the government will publish a “plan for taking the country out of lockdown”, which will detail when it will be safe for various sectors of the economy to reopen.

Speaking to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “Our efforts do appear to have reduced the R rate but we do not yet have enough data to know exactly how soon it will be safe to reopen our society and economy.

“What we do know is that we remain in a perilous situation with more than 37,000 patients now in hospital with Covid, almost double the peak of the first wave, but the overall picture should be clearer by mid-February.

“By then we will know much more about the effect of vaccines in preventing hospitalisations and deaths.”

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