New COVID Restrictions Announced

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a number of new coronavirus restrictions for England.

English pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm from Thursday and people are being asked to work from home where they are able to.

Speaking to Parliament in a speech he says ‘we must act now to avoid’ a worse outcome.

The prime minister says 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 we have now reached a “perilous turning point”, he adds.

He says he “wishes” he could reassure the house it was merely a function of more testing, but it isn’t.

The PM says hospital admissions had doubled and it could only get worse as we go into winter.

“This is the moment where we must act. If we can curb the number of daily infections… we can save lives, protect the NHS and shelter the economy.

“A stitch in time saves nine.”

Johnson says this is “in no way a return to the lockdown” from March.

He says schools and colleges will remain open and businesses can stay open in a “COVID compliant way”.

As we were expecting from the PM, the advice is now to work from home if you can, despite advice earlier in this month to head back to the workplace.

Johnson confirms that pubs and restaurants in England will have a curfew from Thursday, needing to shut up shop by 22:00 BST (21:00 GMT), and table service will be required.

“I am sorry this will affect many businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act.”

Johnson says the new rule on table service will mean fines if it is broken.

The PM then announces there will be new places where face coverings will be required.

Staff in the hospitality and retail sectors will now need to wear them, as well as passengers travelling in taxis.

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

And when it comes to weddings, the limit on guests will now reduce from 30 to 15.

Finally, plans for trials to have the public return to sporting events and conference centres have also been paused.

Johnson says the measures “will only work if people comply”, and points to those “brazenly” breaking the rules.

As a result, the PM confirms they will be enforced with tighter penalties.

He says the £10,000 fines imposed on those who don’t quarantine will now be applied to businesses.

And the penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking rule of six will double to £200.

Speaking directly to those who shielded earlier this year, the PM says they do not need to shield, except in local lockdown areas.

“If all these actions fail we reserve the right to use greater firepower with significantly greater restrictions,” he said.

“I fervently want to avoid taking this step but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.”

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