IT’S been a difficult start to 2021 as England has gone back into lockdown for the third time.

On Monday (January 4) Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a third national lockdown on England and shut schools to most students to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by surging coronavirus infections.

The PM’s statement came after England’s chief medical officers raised the UK to the highest level on the Covid-19 alert system.

Under the new measures people can leave their homes for shopping for necessities such as food and medicine, for exercise, if they are caring for somebody or are a volunteer.

All primary and secondary schools and colleges have moved to remote learning, except for the children of key workers or vulnerable children.

But what do people in Somerset think of the new national lockdown?

A Williton mum, who asked to remain anonymous, said it’s difficult for parents to home-school their children and she would prefer it if school’s were open.

She said: “It’s not easy for parents to home school there children as I find it’s a distraction and they won’t want to learn but just game or play out all day.

“I wish the schools would allow children back as at the end of the day they’re the ones missing out.”

The lockdown will also have a big impact on businesses as all non-essential shops have been asked to close again.

Danielle Prosser opened Coaster Coffee in Minehead in May last year and said while she welcomes the lockdown, she could face bankruptcy if the lockdown lasts until March.

“I’ve been in a supermarket and witnessed people not sanitizing their hands and touching fresh produce and putting it back on the shelf. People in supermarkets do not maintain social distancing. It seems to be a free for all,” Danielle said.

“My monthly bills are £5,000 and the government grant is £4,000 for this lockdown which could be for months.

“Last time we were in a lockdown like this we had £10,000 which we used to stay in business, if we’re lockdown until March I face bankruptcy and becoming homeless with my family.

“As a coffee shop we’ve spent hundreds to become Covid safe as have the rest of the hospitality industry but we’re the ones that have to suffer.”

Stephen Henagulf, chairman of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said the lockdown is ‘a real body blow’ for businesses and firms which are in a ‘precarious position’ face a difficult road ahead.

“The financial support being offered by Government for businesses, while welcome, is not going to be enough,” Mr Henagulf said.

“Many smaller firms won’t qualify for the full headline amounts touted by Government and without help many will not be here to power our recovery in the long-term.

“Businesses need to see a clear support package for the whole of 2021; a long-term, co-ordinated plan, not just a drip-feed approach to support. Enhanced support for businesses, a turbo-charged vaccine rollout and delivery of existing promises on mass testing must be delivered to enable the UK to restart, rebuild and renew.”

Cllr David Fothergill, leader of Somerset County Council, said coronavirus cases in Somerset have ‘sharply increased’ and it is vital that everyone follows the rules.

“Our staff are working closely with schools to help them stay open for vulnerable learners and children of key workers, “ Cllr Fothergill said.

“We’re providing additional support for young people and families in need, ranging from laptops to food parcels. We’re also working closely with district colleagues to support businesses. We have 700 staff ready to be redeployed to support the NHS with the largest vaccination programme in history and together we are already rolling out vaccinations.”