By Rachael Grealish
The Prime Minister has announced new COVID-19 restrictions, including another U-turn, which could last up to six months, following a surge in cases.
Boris Johnson has made U-turn about people heading back to the office and has introduced new regulations for face coverings today, Tuesday September 22.
Face masks will become compulsory for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers and fines for failing to wear a face mask will rise to £200 – this will will be extended to customers when they are not seated at a table, the PM told MPs in Commons.
Along with this, just weeks after the government urged the country to ‘get back to work’, his new message – called a ‘shift in emphasis’ by Michael Gove – is to, once again, work from home if you can do so.
While addressing the house the PM called this time a ‘perilous turning point’ in the UK’s fight against the virus.
Following the rare joint briefing from Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, Johnson has said the UK must ‘act now to avoid still graver consequences later on’.
Although he is expected to address the nation from No. 10 later on today, the new restrictions include:
- Office workers should work from home again where possible – although workers in ‘key public services and in all professions where home working is not possible’ – such as construction and retail, should continue to go in.
- From Thursday September 24, all pubs, bars and restaurants must be table service only and close at 10pm – but delivery services can remain open.
- The requirement to wear a face covering has been extended to staff in retail, people in taxis and everyone using hospitality services.
- Fines for not wearing a face covering will now double to £200 for a first offence.
- Only 15 people can now attend weddings – but 30 can still go to a funeral.
- The “rule of six” has been extended to indoor sports teams.
- The phased reopening of stadiums for sporting events from October 1, has now been scrapped.
However, when addressing MPs Johnson said the country is not entering another lockdown as we did earlier in the year and schools, colleges and universities would remain open.
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 general instruction to stay at home.
“We will ensure that schools, colleges, universities stay open because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people.
“We will ensure businesses can stay open in a COVID-compliant way. However we must take action to suppress the disease.”
The PMs change in restrictions comes after Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick gave a stark warning to the UK that if the rise in COVID-19 cases was not tackled now we could see cases rise to 50,000 a day by mid-October.