Strict new coronavirus rules could be in place for SIX months, warns PM

Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situati

Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation with the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA Wire - Credit: PA

Face masks will be mandatory in restaurants and bars, weddings will be reduced to 15 guests and people will be encouraged to work from home in new coronavirus restrictions announced by the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson revealed a number of new regulations in Parliament this afternoon following a spike in coronavirus cases across the UK, saying how “we must act to avoid” a worse outcome.

He said there has been a “delicate balance” of measures, and the “common sense and fortitude of British people” meant that earlier this year we were able to “avert an even bigger catastrophe”.

But now, he said, we have reached a “perilous turning point”.

He reassured the British public this is “in no way a return to the lockdown” introduced in March, but these measures will be under constant review and they will act to ensure the virus is kept under control.

From Thursday, all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England must close by 10pm.

When questioned about the 10pm cut-off, the PM said there is evidence that transmission “tends to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed”.

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He said introducing the limit on serving time is “one way of driving down the R number without doing excessive economic damage”.

The sector will also be restricted by law to provide table service only and new rules regarding face coverings will be introduced.

Boris Johnson said people working in retail, those travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality – except while seated at a table to eat or drink – would have to wear face coverings.

The advice is now to work from home if you can, despite advice earlier this month to head back to the workplace.

The exemptions to the “rule of six” will also be cut down from Monday, September 28. For example, people doing indoor team sports will now not be allowed.

The limit on guests at weddings will be reduced from 30 to 15 – while funerals will still be allowed to have up to 30 guests.

Finally, plans for trials to have the public return to sporting events and conference centres – which were expected to come in October – have also been postponed.

The PM said there will be no closures of schools, colleges or universities as there is “nothing more important than the education of our young people”.

His message was that coronavirus is not over and we “must act now” to continue to fight this disease.

“This virus is a fact of our lives,” he said. “These restrictions will only work if people comply.”

The new measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak come after the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended raising the Covid-19 alert level from three to four - the second highest - indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

Earlier on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance - the chief scientific adviser - said the UK could see 50,000 Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 or more a month later unless urgent action is taken.

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