British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on the country’s return to offices, saying people should work from home if possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Key points:Top UK advisers say coronavirus infections are doubling every seven daysPrime Minister Boris Johnson has further tightened measures while stopping short of another full lockdownAmong other restrictions, it is now advised that workers stay at home if they can
Mr Johnson announced a package of new restrictions, including a requirement for pubs, restaurants and other venues in England to close between 10:00pm and 5:00am each day.
He said Britain was at a “perilous turning point” and had to act now.
People will have to wear face-coverings in taxis, as well as while using public transport, and the size of permitted gatherings is being reduced, with weddings limited to 15 people instead of 30.
A plan to bring spectators back to sports stadiums starting in October is also being put on hold.
For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic read our coronavirus live blog. Boris Johnson says the UK has reached a “perilous turning point”.(AP: Ben Stansall)
The British government is also increasing the penalties for breaking the rules.
Mr Johnson said these new measures could be in place for up to six months.
The announcement comes a day after the British Government’s top scientific and medical advisers said coronavirus infections were doubling every seven days and could rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October if nothing is done to stem the tide.
On Monday, the government reported 4,300 new confirmed cases, the highest number since May.
“We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown,” he said.
“We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives and protecting jobs and livelihoods.”
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The United Kingdom has the biggest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, with 41,877 deaths.
The country is also borrowing record amounts to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland raised the UK’s virus alert from three to four, the second-highest level, on the advice of the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
They said cases of COVID-19 were rising “rapidly and probably exponentially”.
“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,” Mr Johnson said.
“I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing.”