Boris Johnson reveals new COVID rules on face masks, fines, pubs and working from home
Written by Gavin on 22nd September 2020
Face masks will become compulsory for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers in an effort to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in England, the prime minister has announced.
Fines for a failure to wear a face mask will rise to £200 and will extend to customers when they are not seated at a table.
The prime minister also restricted weddings to 15 people, down from 30. He also confirmed that plans to allow limited crowds to sporting fixtures had been suspended.
In a Commons statement to MPs, Boris Johnson confirmed that pubs, bars and restaurants would be required to close by 10pm from Thursday.
They will also be restricted by law to offering table service only.
And the PM ditched his drive to get people back into the office, telling Britons they should work from home if they can.
But he stopped short – for now – of introducing more wide-ranging measures to try and halt the rise in COVID-19 cases.
It had been suggested that proposals being worked on by Downing Street could have seen essential travel to schools and workplaces continuing, with restaurants and bars shut.
There was also speculation that Number 10 would ban different households from mixing.
The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to take their own measures in the fight against coronavirus.
In a statement, a Welsh Government spokesperson said:
“The First Minister took part in a UK-wide COBRA meeting today, chaired by the Prime Minister, and attended by the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland and the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
“The meeting discussed a series of UK-wide actions in response to the increase in Covid19 transmission, some of which, such as the need for people to work from home wherever possible, are already in force in Wales. The First Minister will set out which further measures will be implemented in Wales later today.
“The First Minister also welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to having a regular and reliable rhythm to UK-wide decision making – with the devolved governments having a clear and important role in that process.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to announce further restrictions shortly, while people in Northern Ireland have already been banned from mixing with other households indoors.
In Wales, around a third of the population are currently under a form of local lockdown.
Mr Johnson will address the nation from Downing Street later about the new restrictions and the UK’s fight against the virus.
It comes after the coronavirus alert level was raised from three to four, meaning there is now a high or rising level of transmission.
The government’s chief scientific adviser has warned that the UK could see 49,000 new cases every day within weeks unless action is taken to drive down the rate of infection.
This would translate to “200-plus deaths a day” by mid-November, Sir Patrick Vallance said.
Mr Johnson has said he does not want to put the country into a second national lockdown and will be hoping the latest measures are enough to turn the tide.
But despite there being no national lockdown like the one seen in March, some 13.5 million people across the UK are currently living under some form of local restrictions.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer earlier said that a second national shutdown would be a “government failure – not an act of god”.