Yesterday, the Prime Minister outlined the new restrictions designed to help us reduce the spread of coronavirus in the coming weeks. I have summarised the new introductions below however I have also attached the Prime Minister’s letter to all MPs at the bottom of this article.
At every stage of this pandemic the government has struck a delicate balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and minimising the wider impact of our restrictions. As in Spain and France and many other countries, we have reached a turning point. On Monday, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days and in the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled. The UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4 yesterday meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially.
The government is introducing new restrictions and strengthening the rules – making them easier for people to understand, for the police to enforce and to ensure the minimum damage is done to lives and livelihoods:
- The government is once again asking those who can work from home to do so – with particular emphasis on office workers. In all professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail and for all those key public services, people should continue to attend their workplaces.
- From Thursday all pubs, bar and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for take-aways – with all hospitality venues required close at 10pm daily. In order to help enforce this the Prime Minister made it clear this is not the calling of last orders but closing at 10pm. The same rules will apply for takeaways – although deliveries can occur thereafter.
- The government is extending and strengthening the requirement to wear face coverings. These new requirements will include the wearing of facemasks by staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and most importantly both staff and customers in all indoor hospitality – except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
- The government is making its Covid-secure guidelines a legal requirement. In retail, leisure and other sectors these guidelines will become a legal requirement – meaning businesses can be both fined, up to £10,000, and closed if they breach these rules.
- From Monday, we will tighten the rule of six. The rule of six will be extended to all adult indoor team sports. A maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions. However, up to 30 people can still attend funerals as they can do currently.
- Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will be unable to reopen as planned from 1 October. We recognise the implications this will have for our sports clubs – the decision was not taken lightly. We are urgently considering how we can support these clubs, many of which are central to our communities.
- This is not a return to the full lockdown in 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.