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PM: “New restrictions by no means a return to full lockdown but could apply for six months”

Published:  22 September, 2020

PM Boris Johnson has confirmed a new 10pm closure rule, and table service only, across the on-trade from this Thursday. 

Saying the new restrictions could stay in place for six months, the PM also insisted that the measures were “by no means a return to the full lockdown of March”. 

“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 businesses can stay safe and in a Covid compliant way. However, we must take action to suppress the disease. First we are wanting to get out of the office workers who can work from home. In key public services and in all professions where home working is not possible, such as construction or retail, people should continue to attend their workplaces,” he said. 

Confirming the expected tighter measures, Johnson added: “Second, from Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they most close at 10pm. To help the police enforce this rule I'm afraid that means closing, not just calling for last orders.” 

The same, he said, would apply to takeaways though deliveries can continue thereafter. 

Apologising for the affect this would have on businesses “just getting back on their feet”, the PM said: “We must act to stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants.”

The requirement to wear face coverings has also been extended to include all staff in retail and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at the table to eat or drink.

In retail leisure and tourism and other sectors, the 'Covid secure guidelines' would become legal obligations, said Johnson, with businesses breaching the rules "fined and could be closed".

“These measures will only work if people comply. And I know there is nothing more frustrating for the vast majority who do comply with the law than the size of a few who brazenly defie the rules. So, these rules will be enforced by tighter penalties. 

“We've already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to save isolate and such fines will now be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules. The penalty for failing to wear a mask will now double to £200 for a first offence.”

The PM said it should be assumed that the new restrictions would remain in place for “perhaps six months”.   

“After six months of restrictions, it will be tempting to hope that the threat has faded, and to seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far, then you are somehow immune. I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing".

He warned that, “if we fail to act together now, we will not only place others at risk but jeopardise our own futures, with the more drastic actions that we will inevitably be forced to take".