Boris Johnson announces new coronavirus restrictions for England: 10 things we learnt

Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new restrictions designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Boris Johnson announced a raft of new nationwide restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus following a rise in cases across the country. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new coronavirus restrictions in England aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 following a rise in cases across the country.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said it was with a “heavy heart” that he had to introduce the measures, which he suggested could be in place for six months, to limit the spread of the disease.

So what exactly are the new measures?

Pubs to close at 10pm

As widely reported prior to his address to the Commons, all pubs, bars, hospitality, leisure, entertainment and tourism businesses will have to shut from 10pm to 5am.

Only table service will be available at these venues.

He said: “All pubs, bars and restaurants must operate a table service only, except for takeaways. Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.

Watch the PM's statement in the Commons

“And to help the police enforce this rule that means, alas, closing not just calling for last orders, because simplicity is paramount.”

The 10pm curfew applies to takeaways, but delivery services will be allowed to continue operating in their usual hours.

Work from home where you can

After a Government drive to get people back in offices earlier this month, Mr Johnson has now U-turned and urged Britons to work from home “where they can”.

Michael Gove had told employees this morning to work from home where possible, a message which was repeated by the prime minister on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so,” Mr Johnson said.

“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.”

This will likely have an adverse affect on transport services and businesses which rely on commuter income, but is deemed necessary to drive down the virus.

The ‘new normal’ could be here for six months

The new measures announced on Tuesday could be in place for six months, Mr Johnson warned.

He told the Commons: “I fervently want to avoid taking this step, as do the devolved administrations but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons

“We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions that I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.

“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.”

There had been hope a vaccine before Christmas could alleviate some of the restrictions on the UK, however experts have warned it is unlikely we will get enough doses by that time.

Fines increase for those flouting the rules

Mr Johnson vowed to clamp down on people not obeying the laws.

Fines for not wearing a face mask in settings where required or breaking the rule of six will now be doubled from £100 to £200.

And the government also warned businesses they needed to be stricter when it comes to enforcing the law, as they too can now be fined for failure to enforce rules on social distancing and other restrictive measures measures.

Weddings limited to 15 guests

A maximum of 15 people will be allowed to attend weddings.

However the new rules on weddings come into force on Monday, meaning those getting married this weekend will still be allowed 30 guests.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “I’m afraid that from Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now.”

Weddings attendances are being restricted to a maximum of 15 people.

Military could be drafted in to help the police

Strikingly, Mr Johnson warned the military could be drafted in if the emergency services were struggling to deal with the coronavirus outbreak response.

The prime minister said he “reserved the right” to call in the army and other armed forces should it be necessary - which could mean troops sent out on the streets.

Announcing the new restrictions, he said the restrictions “will only work if people comply” and said he was prepared to “use greater firepower with significantly greater restrictions” should they not work.

Mask wearing in public places to expand

Boris Johnson said people working in retail, those travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality except while seated at a table to eat or drink would have to wear face coverings.

This means when you leave or enter a premises, go to the toilet or are not eating or drinking, you must wear a mask .

Shielders urged not to panic

The prime minister addressed those who had been shielding directly in his speech in a bid to ease fears among those in the community.

Shielders had faced among the harshest of lockdowns, with some not leaving their house for several months due to the higher risk of catching Covid-19 or being at greater risk to the disease.

To those shielding, Mr Johnson added: “Following advice from our senior clinicians, our guidance continues to be that you do not need to shield, except in local lockdown areas, and we will keep this under constant review.”

Football matches and other sporting events will continue to be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future. Credit: PA

No fans back in stadiums

The government had planned to launch a pilot scheme for getting fans back into sporting venues from October 1 but that has now been scrapped.

Each event had already been capped at 1,000 capacity but they will now take place behind closed doors.

Premiership Rugby confirmed this affected the match between Bath and Gloucester on Tuesday night, and Bristol against Leicester next week.

Meanwhile this would have provided a vital boost to lower league football teams who rely on gate revenue.

This is not a full lockdown

While expressing the severity of the situation the UK was facing, Mr Johnson was keen to emphasise the new measures were not a return to the full lockdown we saw in March.

Schools and other educational facilities will remain open, he said, despite them being among the first to close during the first full lockdown.

Retail and other non-essential businesses remain open and the majority of the UK’s economy is now back in action.

However the prime minister did warn if the measures put into place do not drive the R rate below 1, harsher restrictions could be introduced.