More stringent coronavirus measures announced

22 September, 2020 / by Matt Smith

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, today (22 September) issued a statement to the House of Commons on new coronavirus restrictions that will come into force on 24 September and could be in place for up to six months.

The announcement came after an emergency COBRA meeting was held in response to the rising infection rate across the country.

In his statement, Mr Johnson said that the country was at “a perilous turning point” and warned that the coronavirus, like other respiratory viruses, is likely to spread faster as we approach the winter months, echoing the warnings from the Chief Medical Officer, Patrick Vallance, and the Chief Scientific Adviser, Chris Whitty, on Monday (21 September).

They warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days, with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections in October.

In response to these warnings signs, the Government has introduced more stringent measures across England to combat the rising number of infections.

Image above: Boris Johnson speaking to the House of Commons on 22 September

What was already restricted in England?

  • Social gatherings of more than six people indoors and outdoors are banned
  • Pubs and restaurants and all other venues are legally required to request customers’ details for test and trace and keep them for 21 days
  • Face coverings must be worn in shops, supermarkets and on public transport unless they are exempt for medical reasons.

What are the additional restrictions?

  • 10.00pm closing times for pubs, bars and restaurants from Thursday 24 September
  • Table service only in hospitality venues
  • Office workers are expected to work from home again
  • People who have been shielding can still go out, except in areas where local lockdowns are in place
  • From Monday 28 September, only 15 people can attend a wedding service and reception
  • Only six people can take part in indoor team sports
  • Large sporting events will not be going ahead from 1 October
  • Businesses will be fined £10,000 and could be forced to close if they break rules
  • Face coverings in retail settings compulsory
  • Face coverings in taxis compulsory
  • Staff and customers in indoor hospitality must now wear face coverings (except when eating or drinking)
  • Fines for not wearing a face-covering in required settings are being increased to £200 from £100 for a first time offence
  • Those breaking ‘the rule of six’ will also be fined £200

What’s still allowed?

  • Households or support bubbles, of more than six people, can still gather indoors in England and only outdoors in Scotland
  • Groups of more than six people are allowed for work or education
  • Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than six people in total
  • Funerals with up to 30 people are allowed
  • Organised sporting outdoor sporting events that are carried out in a “COVID-secure way” can have more than six people

‘A perilous moment’

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, issued a statement about the new restrictions on Twitter:

‘As the Prime Minister outlined today, we are at a perilous moment in the fight against the virus. Given the recent surge in cases and the Government’s failure to set up an adequate testing or contact tracing system we have no choice but to implement further measures to slow the spread of the virus. I firmly believe that acting early, rather than having to impose more stringent measures later, is the right thing to do both for public health and the economy.

‘Throughout this pandemic I have urged Ministers to go further in encouraging the use of face coverings, so I am pleased they will be made compulsory in more public settings. It is also right that Londoners who can work from home do so.

‘With the further restrictions on the opening hours of pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues, the need for extra financial support for these businesses has never been more urgent.

‘It is essential that the Government now come forward within days with a targeted package of financial support for the retail, hospitality and cultural sectors who will be hit hardest by further restrictions, alongside an immediate targeted extension of the furlough scheme.

‘I had a constructive telephone call with the Prime Minister this morning, making clear that London has unique needs and challenges, and additional measures now need to be examined to protect both lives and livelihoods across the capital.

‘Londoners have made monumental sacrifices during this pandemic and as I have further meetings with ministers and council leaders in the coming days I will continue to keep Londoners informed about the extra measures that may need to be implemented in the capital.’

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See also: New restrictions could lead to ‘substantial job losses’

See also: Decisions on hold because of Covid