England is set to go into a nationwide lockdown next week as a way of combating a second wave of the coronavirus, according to newspaper reports.

This is what we can expect:

– What is happening?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday a nationwide lockdown for England which could be introduced on Wednesday and last until December 1, according to The Times. Earlier reports on Friday suggested Tier 4 restrictions would be imposed, putting half the country’s population into lockdown, but meetings between the PM, ministers and health experts decided on the need for a more stringent move.

A national lockdown still needs to be signed off on by Cabinet, but it appears likely to be approved.

– What has brought this on?

It has become clear in recent weeks that Covid-19 is now spreading faster than the worst predictions of scientists. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey found cases “continued to rise steeply” in the week ending October 23, with an estimated 568,100 people becoming infected.

Government scientists now believe at least 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 are occurring in England daily, and deaths could reach 500 per day within weeks.

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They believe it is now too late for a two-week national circuit-breaker to have enough of an effect, that Tier 3 restrictions are not sufficient, and that a longer national lockdown is required to drive the reproduction number, or R value, of the virus below one.

The moves are also designed to address the problem of pressure on the nation’s hospitals to cope with a second wave. A recent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found the rate of infections and hospital admissions was now “exceeding the reasonable worst case scenario planning levels”.

– What will the national lockdown look like?

It is still to be finalised, but it is likely everything will be closed except essential shops and education facilities, which includes nurseries, schools and universities. Tougher measures for the most affected regions are also being considered.

– What is the envisaged end point?

As ever, while the world waits for a vaccine, the idea is to return the country and economy to normal as soon as is feasible.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, an infectious diseases expert and Sage member, tweeted: “The sooner we get on top of the disease, reduce transmission, R