New coronavirus restrictions announced today could last for six more months, Boris Johnson said, dashing hopes of a return to normality in time for Christmas.
The PM has announced a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants in England and officially dropped his ‘back to the office’ message as part of a package of measures to fight the second wave.
Office workers are now being told to work from home if they can, while retail and hospitality staff will have a legal obligation to wear face masks.
Speaking in the House of Commons Mr Johnson said the rules are being brought in because ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ and insisted this is not a return to the full lockdown, when people were told to stay at home.
He said the limit of six on social gatherings would remain, but weddings would no longer be exempt. Previously receptions could have 30 guests, but this has been cut back to 15 in a bid to stop the virus spreading.
Mr Johnson said the restrictions could be in place for six more months and possibly longer if they do not work in bringing the virus right down.
He said: ‘For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.
‘We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor those who urge a permanent lockdown.
‘We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.’
Pubs, bars and restaurants are allowed to remain open but will have to close before 10 or risk a hefty fine of £10,000. Venues will also have to switch to table service only to prevent crowds gathering at the bar.
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