THE law which put England into a third national lockdown from one minute past midnight this morning states that the restrictions could stay in place until March 31.

Boris Johnson had previously said the UK may be able to start reducing measures around lifted in the middle of February.

But the newly published five-page lockdown document, published late on Tuesday just hours before the start of lockdown, says the rules could be in place until March 31.

MPs will return to Westminster today, January 6, to vote on regulations enforcing England’s national lockdown as the stringent restrictions entered into force overnight amid spiralling coronavirus cases.

The Commons has been recalled from its Christmas recess for the second time, to debate and retrospectively vote on the measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Boris Johnson will update MPs on the new controls – which include the closure of schools to most pupils and a return to the stay at home order – before a vote due in the evening.

The measures are expected to pass with ease, with Labour set to support the motion.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is also expected to set out his plans for England’s pupils after schools were closed and GCSE and A-level exams cancelled.

The regulations enforcing England’s national lockdown came into effect at 12.01am on Wednesday, as new figures suggested one in 50 people had coronavirus last week.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested 1.1 million people in private households in England had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.

The number of daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time, while a further 830 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, January 5.

The latest data from NHS England showed there were 26,467 Covid-19 patients in hospital as of 8am on January 5 – a week-on-week increase of 21%.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the risk level will gradually decrease over time with measures being “lifted by degrees possibly at different rates in different parts of the country”, but warned some restrictions may have to be introduced again next winter.