Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced new measures in England to try and curb the growing rate of Covid-19 infections and the rising R rate – how many people a carrier can spread the virus to.
Saying the government is attempting to “balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.”
Following a conference yesterday (September 21) by England’s chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser Professor Chris Witty and the Sir Patrick Vallance which revealed infections could reach 50,000 a day by the middle of October and 200 deaths a day by November if the growing infection rate is not curbed, the PM announced new restrictions.
The PM said: “I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.
“We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people. We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.
“However, we must take action to suppress the disease.”
The latest rules are:
Office workers who can work from home to do so. If homeworking is not possible, such as in retail and construction, people are urged to continue to go to work.
From Thursday (September 24) all pubs, bars and restaurants to operate table service only and to close at 10pm. The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue after 10pm.
Face covering use extended to staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles and staff and customers in hospitality venues except when seated to eat and drink
Tightening the ‘rule of six’ with only 15 guests allowed for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The limit of 30 for funerals remains unchanged.
Cancellation of the October 1 reopening date for business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events.
In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach the rules.
Enforcement will be increased with extra resources for police and the ability to call in the Army if needed. Fines for breaching face covering and gathering of six rules will increase to £200 for the first offence.
Shielding guidance remains the same – the PM said people do not need to shield except in local lock down areas.
The PM said the rules are likely to be in force for six months.
He added: ” If all these actions fail to bring the R rate under 1 we reserve the right for significantly greater restrictions. We are only able to avoid this if the new measures work and our behaviour changes.”
Saying the rules are likely to remain for six months he added: “This virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.”
The UK’s coronavirus alert level has been raised from 3 to 4, meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially.”