The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of new restrictions in England following a surge of Covid-19 infections. 

The announcement follows a build-up of discussions with the Government’s scientific and medical advisors, the Cabinet and First Ministers of the devolved administrations.  

The new restrictions include: 

  • Office workers should work from home again where possible 
  • Starting on Thursday, all pubs, restaurants and bars must close at 10pm and operate on a table-service and take away basis only  
  • Taxi drivers and people working in retail and hospitality are now required to wear face coverings 
  • Fines for not wearing face-covering will double to £200 
  • Plan to re-open sports stadiums to fans has been cancelled 
  • The ‘rule of six’ has been extended to indoor sports teams 
  • Weddings have been limited to 15 guests 

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister argued that, although he regrets introducing the new measures which he said could last up to six months, “this is the moment” to act. 

On Monday, in a rare televised address, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned the public that, without urgent action, Covid-19 infection rates could increase exponentially to 50,000 per day by mid-October.

“Fifty-thousand cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day,” said Sir Patrick  

Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer told the House of Commons that he understands and supports Prime Minister on his decision to introduce new restrictions. However, he also criticised the Government for failing to put in place a proper test, track and trace system at this phase of the pandemic.  

Mr Johnson also said that the military may be required to assist police in enforcing the new lockdown measures, however the extent of military involvement remains unclear.

The Prime Minister concluded with a warning, saying he “reserves right to deploy further firepower with significant strict restrictions”. Following the announcement, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon went one step further with her own restrictions, banning the people from visiting other households indoors from Wednesday.  

Welcome new for NHS trusts?

Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said that many hospital bosses welcomed the new announcements, she said: “We are not in the position we were in six months ago. We’ve seen significant advances in treatments and our understanding of the virus, and the NHS has learned a lot from the huge challenges posed by the initial surge in cases which will be invaluable in the coming months.

“However trusts still face many challenges which must be recognised as they work to restore routine services, while dealing with more Covid-19 cases and winter pressures.”

She continued to say that while no one doubts the impact of these restrictions on peoples’ lives, the consequences of failing to act and failing to protect the NHS would be far worse.