Boris Johnson Has Told The Public They Should Work From Home If Possible As Coronavirus Cases Continue To Rise
Boris Johnson has once again urged people to work from home (Credit: PA)
People will be asked to work from home wherever possible and retail and hospitality staff must wear masks by law as part of new coronavirus restrictions set out by Boris Johnson today.
Wedding receptions will also be limited to 15 people and indoor sports will have to adhere to the ‘rule of six’, the PM told the Commons on Tuesday, ahead of a broadcast message to the nation at 8pm.
In addition to a 10pm curfew and legal table service obligation placed on the hospitality industry from midnight on Thursday, workers will also be required to wear face coverings, as will anyone travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle.
Plans to reintroduce socially distanced crowds at live sporting events from October 1 will be paused.
Mr Johnson told MPs the government was "operating on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine", that action had to be taken to slow the spread of the virus and cut the 'R' rate of trasmission and that restrictions were likely to be in place for the next six months.
"If we can curb the number of daily infections and reduce the reproduction rate to one, then we can save lives, protect the NHS and shelter from the faster and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary," he said.
"I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We're not issuing a genuine instruction to stay at home, we will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open."
Essential workers - including MPs - should continue to go to their workplaces as normal, the government said.
Covid-secure guidelines for businesses will become legal obligations for employers, with fines for those who do not adhere to them and an increased £200 fine for those who do not wear face coverings when required.
Takeaways will also be forced to operate under the 10pm-5am curfew, but will still be able to provide deliveries outside of those hours.
"I'm sorry that this will affect the businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act and stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants," Mr Johnson said.
He added that police forces will be given extra funding to enforce the new measures and will be able to call on military support if needed.
The PM's official spokesman later confirmed this would be to "further free up the police to have a greater presence on our streets...using tried and tested mechanisms".
"This would involve the military backfilling certain duties, such as office roles and guarding protected sites, so police officers can be out enforcing the virus response," the spokesman added.
"This is not about providing any additional powers to the military, or them replacing the police in enforcement roles, and they will not be handing out fines. It is about freeing up more police officers."
The move follows a warning from the government’s top scientific advisers that the UK could face 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day next month if action is not taken.
In their live televised briefing on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance reiterated that the virus thrives on close contact between people.
The PM did not set out plans to ban households mixing outside of local lockdown zones – a rule already put back in place in Northern Ireland - but said all four devolved nations were taking "similar steps" to those in England.
"We will continue to act against local flare ups, working alongside councils and strengthening measures where necessary," he added.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he supported the government measures and would continue to urge people to follow the rules.
But he added: "Families across the country will be anxious today. Many are already living under local lockdowns and many more fear that soon they will. They're worried about their jobs, about their loved ones, and whether they will be able to spend Christmas with their families. They will also be worried that the government doesn't have a clear strategy.
"One day, people are encouraged to work in the office. In fact, more than encouraged - they were openly challenged by the prime minister for not doing so.
"Today, they're told the opposite. This is a time of national crisis. We need clear leadership."
Downing Street said it was hopeful the package of new measures "as a whole" would help to reduce transmission between different households and limit outbreaks, while providing "as little disruption as possible".
Mr Johnson said ministers would "not listen" to people urging for the virus to be allowed to run its course, nor those asking for a "permanent lockdown" and that they were "taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods".