Yesterday the Prime Minister made a statement regarding the rising number of Coronavirus cases.
The Prime Minister made clear that like other countries in Europe, we have reached a turning point. A month ago, on average, around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day; yesterday 3,929 people tested positive. From the latest data it is understood that fewer than 8% of the population have the necessary antibodies.
On Monday, the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, meaning the transmission of the virus is high or rising exponentially. Cases are growing fastest in those aged 20-29, but the evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups. I am concerned that in the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.
If left, there would be tens of thousands of daily infections in October, which would lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November. Covid-19, like other respiratory viruses, is likely to spread faster in the winter.
The Government will introduce new restrictions in England to reduce the R number, with the minimum damage to lives and livelihood:
- Office workers who can work from home to do so. Those who work in professions where homeworking is not possible (i.e construction and retail) and those who work in key public services to continue to attend their workplaces.
- From Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table service only, except for take-aways and together with all hospitality venues must close at 10pm.
- The requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
- In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, the Government’s Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.
- From Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions. Up to 30 can still attend a funeral. The rule of six has also been extended to all adult indoor team sports.
- Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will not be able to reopen from 1 October.
These measures will be enforced by higher penalties. The Government have introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate. This will now be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules. For those failing to wear a mask or for those breaking the rule of six, the penalty has been doubled for £200 for a first offence.
The Prime Minister has been clear that if our actions fail to bring R below 1, then greater restrictions will be deployed.