BORIS Johnson has warned today's new stricter lockdown rules could last for six MONTHS and effectively cancel Christmas.
In a live address in the House of Commons, the PM told MPs that hospital admissions have more than doubled in the last fortnight – and Britain has reached a "perilous turning point" like in France and Spain, and forced him to act.
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And the PM gave warning that "significantly greater restrictions" could be slapped on the country "if all our actions fail to bring the R below 1" in the coming weeks.
He stopped short of announcing a two-week circuit break of shutdowns to put a brake on the spread.
Boris added: "We should assume that the restrictions 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."
If the rules are in place for another six months, they would effectively cancel the nation's Christmas celebrations.
The number of new cases is growing fastest for people in their 20s, he said today, but it's now spreading to other age groups, he said.
And it's likely to get even worse as Britain goes into winter, he said.
Boris said: "A stitch in time saves nine.
"But this is by no means a return to a full lockdown as in March.
"We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.
"We will ensure that schools and universities stay open.
"But we must take action to suppress the disease."
Ministers want to avoid shutting down shops and offices once again if they can help it.
And schools will be the absolute last thing to close too to try and keep kids' education on track.
This evening at 8pm he will address the nation with a live TV clip too.
He announced this afternoon new rules for England – but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will take similar steps. The plans include:
- A 10pm curfew for all pubs and hospitality venues will come in from Thursday – where doors will have to be closed
- And they will have to offer table service only – except for takeaway deliveries which can continue
- Tougher enforcement powers for shutting down venues which don't force people to stay apart
- The military could be called in by police to help enforce the new rules
- People should work from home if they can – or if their workplace isn't covid-safe but MPs will stay in Parliament
- Weddings are going to be slashed back from 30 down to 15 – but funerals will stay on the same rules
- Facemasks will be made compulsory for staff in hospitality and close contact places – and taxis too
- Team sports will be curbed inside, banning five-aside footie and other games
- The return to live sport planned for October 1 now will not go ahead
- Businesses will have a legal requirementto enforce the rule of six
- The fines will DOUBLE for not wearing face masks to £200
- As announced at the weekend, there will be fines for Brits who defy orders to isolate
The PM told the nation: "I am sorry this will affect businesses who have just got back up on their feet.
"But we must act to stop the virus being transmitted in restaurants and bars."
And in a grave message to young people who think the virus is harmless to them, he stressed: "People who aren’t badly affected can pass it on. Your harmless cough can be someone else’s death."
As The Sun revealed last night, pubs and other entertainment and leisure venues will have to shut at 10pm from Thursday evening onwards.
Ministers think that Belgium – which has introduced the curfews already – have been successful in curbing their spread.
They won't be able to open between 10pm and 5pm – but takeaway venues can continue as usual.
Pubs and other restaurants and cafes will have to offer table service by law, too.
The PM warned: Boris: "What we’ve seen from the evidence, and alas, the spread of the virus spreads more later in the night when more alcohol has been consumed."
WORK FROM HOME
People who can work from home effectively should return to doing to, Boris confirmed today in a huge u-turn for the Government.
Just weeks ago they were telling people to go back into the office in a bid to save thousands of jobs.
The PM said, however, that "in key public services – and in all professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces".
Boris confirmed today that vulnerable people won't need to shield again yet.
Unless they are living in local lockdowns, they don't need to return to staying indoors at all times, he said.
BRING IN THE ARMY
Police can draw on "military support" if they are too busy enforcing the coronavirus rules, the PM said today.
It means they could be drafted in to help backfill roles.
The fines for not wearing a face mask will double to £200, Boris said today.
And people working in restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues will be ordered by law to wear them.
People taking taxis will also have to cover their face on their ride.
SMALL WEDDINGS ONLY
Weddings will be banned from holding more than 15 people together at a time from Monday, Boris said.
Ceremonies and receptions with up to 30 can go ahead for this weekend, however.
CURBS ON SPORT
Indoor sport which breaks the rule of six will be banned from Thursday too.
Exemptions will be ditched to tighten up the rules and stop the spread of the virus in certain settings.
The planned return to the live Premier League matches which was due to take place on October 1 was also ditched today.
This morning Boris gathered his top team for a Cabinet meeting to discuss the new rules.
And he held a COBRA meeting with the leaders of the devolved administrations, too.
It's expected that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow suit with new rules.
Nicola Sturgeon will give a statement to the Scottish Parliament later today.
Already Northern Ireland has gone much further than Boris, which has banned people from being able to visit others in their homes at all.
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