London police blast Boris Johnson’s new rules as ‘absurd’ and ‘a nonsense’


‘Six months’ of curbs

  • All pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be subject to a 10pm curfew from Thursday, with the PM adamant that premises must kick out all of their customers by the cut off point. 
  • The Hospitality sector will also be restricted to table service only as the Government outlawed drinkers making a trip to the bar. 
  • All retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings will be required to wear masks  – except when they are seated to eat or drink.
  • All workers who can work from home are now being encouraged to do so from tomorrow. 
  • Fines for breaking the rule of six and for failing to wear a face covering are increasing to £200 for a first offence. 
  • The police will now have the option of asking the military for support with soldiers potentially being drafted in to fulfil office roles and guard protected sites in order to allow officers more time to crackdown on rule-breakers. 
  • The number of people allowed to attend weddings in England is being slashed to 15 from Monday but the number of people allowed to attend a funeral will remain at 30.  
  • Plans for the partial return of sports fans to stadiums on October 1 has been paused.
  • Rule of six exemptions are being tightened to ban indoor team sports like five-a-side-football matches.

Police have blasted Boris Johnson’s new rules as ‘absurd’ and ‘a nonsense’ as small business owners say they will go bust if workers stay home again.

The Prime Minister faced fire from all sides as he U-turned on his push to reopen workplaces after just a few weeks to tell office staff to work from home if they can.

He was barbed for introducing new measures including a 10pm pub curfew and £200 fines for mask rule-breakers among new restrictions on social settings in England.

The PM also announced he is making the Army available to help the police enforce stringent new coronavirus rules.

He said officers will now have the ‘option to draw on military support where required’ to free up staff so more can crackdown on rule-breakers as he revealed fines are being doubled to £200.

But Downing Street ruled out deploying soldiers on the streets, saying they would be used for ‘backfilling certain duties, such as office roles and guarding protected sites, so police can be out enforcing the virus response’.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh slammed the announcement as ‘a nonsense’ and National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said it ‘lacked any detail’.

Meanwhile Chief Executive of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls described the restrictions as ‘another crushing blow’ for many businesses.

At the same time Tory MPs warned there must not be another ‘major lockdown’, saying the decision to ditch the back to work drive will cause ‘dismay’ among workers who live in ‘cramped, overcrowded accommodation’.

They also warned their constituents would be furious at the new crackdown after they followed the Government’s rules only to have seen ‘people at protests, at street parties, not having action taken against them.

But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Mr Johnson his actions did not go far enough as she banned people from visiting each other in their own homes in a bid to slash to Covid-19 R rate north of the border.

Boris Johnson announced today that pubs and restaurants in England will be subject to a 10pm curfew from Thursday

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh (pictured) slammed today's announcement as 'a nonsense'

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter (pictured) said it 'lacked any detail'

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh (left) slammed today’s announcement as ‘a nonsense’ and National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter (right) said it ‘lacked any detail’

The Prime Minister said the police will now have the 'option to draw on military support where required' to free up officers so more can go out and crackdown on rule-breakers as he revealed fines are being doubled to £200

The Prime Minister said the police will now have the ‘option to draw on military support where required’ to free up officers so more can go out and crackdown on rule-breakers as he revealed fines are being doubled to £200

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that his actions did not go far enough as she banned her countrymen from visiting each other in their own homes in a bid to slash to Covid-19 R rate in Scotland

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that his actions did not go far enough as she banned her countrymen from visiting each other in their own homes in a bid to slash to Covid-19 R rate in Scotland

The unveiling of the Government’s latest coronavirus clampdown came as:

  • Sir Keir Starmer used his first Labour conference speech as leader to warn that a second national lockdown would be a ‘sign of Government failure, not an act of God’ that would take an ‘immense toll’ on public health and the economy. 
  • Sir Keir also claimed the ‘incompetence’ of the Government is ‘is holding Britain back’ and that the ‘underfunding of the NHS’ and the ‘abandonment of social care’ by the Conservatives had meant the UK was not prepared for the pandemic.
  • Julian Knight, the Tory chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee, said without a ‘route map’ for getting spectators back to sports events ‘we risk decimation of our sporting and cultural infrastructure’. 
  • Shares in some of Britain’s biggest pub chains felt the pinch following the announcement of the 10pm curfew as City Pub Group fell 6.6 per cent while Wetherspoons dropped 0.4 per cent.
  • Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething welcomed the UK Government’s decision to revert back to working from home as he said it was ‘a welcome shift… that matches our position’. 
  • Tory peer Andrew Lloyd Webber warned that commercial theatre will not survive unless the Government ‘steps up to the plate’.
  • Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said the increase in coronavirus cases is ‘extremely difficult news for all of us and the whole country’ as he said the Bank ‘will do everying we can do… to support the businesses and people of this country’. 
  • The Government said that as of 9am on Tuesday there were a further 4,926 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, taking the total to 403,551.

Nicola Sturgeon BANS Scots from visiting each other in their own homes 

Scots will be banned from visiting each other in their own homes from tomorrow, Nicola Sturgeon said today as she reintroduced stringent lockdown rules.

The First Minister said that a ‘high proportion’ of new cases in the country were linked to transmission within private homes where social distancing and ventilation were more difficult than outdoors or public buildings.

She spoke to MSPs at Holyrood minutes after Boris Johnson has unveiled new lockdown measures in England, saying that his steps did not go far enough and her advice was that it ‘will not be sufficient to bring the R number down’ north of the border.

Addressing reports that measures in Scotland could be in place for up to six months, the First Minister said she hoped that would not be the case.

She told MSPs: ‘It is certainly the case, until scientific developments such as a vaccine change the game in the battle against Covid-19, it will have an impact on our lives.

‘That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the new restrictions I am announcing today will be in place for six months.

‘By acting early and substantially, our hope is that these new measures will be in place for a shorter period than would be the case if we waited longer to act.’ 

Metropolitan Police Federation Chairman Mr Marsh warned the rules are ‘nonsense’ and ‘absurd’.

He told MailOnline: ‘In terms of the enforcement, for us it’s really difficult. I mean I’m not a massive fan of Nicola Sturgeon but at least she’s calling the shots correctly.

‘If someone snitches and says Mr Big has got 20 people in his house, then what are we going to do? Sit outside his house all evening and wait for people to come out and count them or something?

‘That’s one address. We’re talking about millions of addresses. It’s just a nonsense. It’s absolutely absurd. Why can’t they put in place what is in Scotland I have no idea.

‘Why? Why is ours six, but Scotland’s is no one? It’s not right and it just makes it so difficult for my colleagues to enforce when you can make it so crystal clear so it’s not ambiguous, there’s no way around it, these are the rules, adhere to them.’

He added: ‘But you know when you’ve got the Home Secretary saying snitch on your neighbours, well good luck with that one Priti Patel. How are we supposed to enforce that?’

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter added: ‘More funding for policing this pandemic is much needed.

‘The service needs all the help it can get, as financial pressures on Forces are increasing day-by-day – but today’s announcement lacked any detail. We will wait for that before we celebrate too much. Since the start of this pandemic police and military have been working together on logistics.

‘This has and continues to work well; but the announcement from the Prime Minister has been seized by some as a suggestion that the military will be on streets helping the police to enforce Covid regulations. This is not what policing has asked for and not what it needs.’

Mr Apter added: ‘This is an ever-changing situation and police officers will continue to do an incredible job at adapting quickly.

‘The vast majority of the public complied with the restrictions placed on them. These restrictions affect us all, but this is about keeping each other as safe as possible.

‘I would hope the public will carry on doing the right thing to help protect fellow citizens to minimise the spread of the virus.’

Dash to the altar this weekend! Hammer blow for couples tying the knot as wedding guests will be limited to 15 from Monday under new Covid rules

Wedding ceremonies and receptions in England are to be capped at 15 people, as part of new coronavirus restrictions to curb a surge in cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the number of people permitted at wedding celebrations is to be halved. 

But he added that funeral services would be exempt from the restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30.

Celebrations held this weekend will narrowly avoid the new restrictions, which come into effect in England on Monday.

Setting out the measures in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: ‘Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six.

‘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 and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions were included in a list of exemptions to the ban on social gatherings of more than six, with up to 30 people, including the couple, allowed to attend.

Funeral services remain exempt from the rule of six, unless specified in areas with local lockdown restrictions.

A maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral in England and Wales, while no more than 20 are permitted in Scotland.

But the ban on gatherings of more than six applies to wakes or receptions held in private homes or gardens in England, unless those attending are all from the same household or support bubble. 

The fresh restrictions also sparked anger from the hospitality sector, with UKHospitality’s Ms Nicholls describing them as ‘another crushing blow’ for many businesses.

She said: ‘A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.

‘Table service has been widely adopted in some parts of the sector since reopening but it is not necessary across all businesses, such as coffee shops.

‘It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just 5 per cent of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.’

Will Johns, 45, owner of Anderson and Hill deli in the Great Western Arcade, added: ‘We rely on people coming into work – in the city centre 95 per cent of people come in to go to the office.

‘People have started to come back and business has been improving since restrictions were relaxed.

‘We are at about 50 per cent of where we were prior to lockdown and during we were running at 20 to 30 per cent.

‘It is impossible to be optimistic because we have no idea what is going to happen in the next six months.

‘You shouldn’t be optimistic when there’s nothing to be positive about. The government is being 100 per cent reactionary.

‘They don’t have a solution and just react to what happens and what they are told from day to day.

‘I still have one member of staff on furlough who worked part-time, sometimes full time.

‘There’s no way I can afford to employ her on the same hours as before.

‘I am breaking even and we are just about alive, but it’s not really a business.’

Mr Johnson said the UK is at a ‘perilous turning point’ in the fight against the virus. He imposed a 10pm curfew on all restaurants, bars and pubs across England from Thursday with the hospitality sector also being restricted to table service only.

A requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings, except for when they are seated at a table to eat or drink.

He also announced the end of the Government’s back to work drive as he said he is now ‘asking office workers who can work from home to do so’.

The Government has been actively encouraging workers to ditch working from home and today’s U-turn represents a humiliating climbdown for the PM who earlier this month had told his Cabinet that ‘people are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country and quite right too’.

The decision to urge workers to work from home sparked dire warnings about the future of struggling town and city centres as business groups immediately demanded the Government extend its furlough scheme – which is due to close at the end of October.

Mel Stride, the Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, told the PM lockdowns ‘destroy jobs and also personal wellbeing’ as he urged the Government to pay attention to the concerns of businesses.

He said: ‘The fact the lockdowns have damaged our national economy means that in the years ahead a smaller economy will probably have serious impacts on the health of millions of people up and down our country.’

The five days of panic which paved the way for Boris Johnson to impose a curfew on pubs

Thursday: The latest official data presented to ministers showed that coronavirus cases were on the rise in all age groups while hospitalisations were also increasing across the board. The numbers are said to have prompted Michael Gove to call for decisive action to be taken. By the end of the day a ‘consensus’ had reportedly emerged around a plan for a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors, with Mr Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said to be the leading advocates. Advisers on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies also backed the plans on the grounds that it was not possible to predict the impact of a less severe curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants. Mr Johnson was reportedly initially in favour of the total shutdown. 

Friday: The prospect of a total shutdown spooked ministers and officials in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who were afraid of the damage such a move would do to the economy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to have asked to see the Prime Minister and the pair then met on Friday afternoon. Mr Sunak spelled out his fears in person and Mr Johnson was apparently sympathetic to the message from the Chancellor, asking officials to look at other options. 

Saturday and Sunday: Mr Johnson held further talks with senior ministers as well as with Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty as the premier tried to hammer out an agreed way forward. Mr Johnson eventually decided to go ahead with a curfew plan instead of a total shutdown as the ‘hawks’ in the Cabinet appeared to win the battle with the ‘doves’.

Monday: The PM’s latest lockdown plans were formally decided upon by senior ministers ahead of a formal announcement today.

He added: ‘Yes, we should listen very carefully to the epidemiologists but we must also listen very carefully to the Treasury, to businesses and to economists too.’ 

Plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have also been ‘paused’ while the number of people allowed to attend weddings is being reduced to 15 from Monday. Exemptions to the rule of six are also being reduced, banning indoor team sport such as five-a-side football matches.

Mr Johnson did not announce a ban on households mixing indoors in England but Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon followed Northern Ireland as she said from tomorrow Scots will not be able to meet in other people’s homes, prompting questions over which of the home nations has adopted the correct approach.

Some experts have already warned the PM’s curfew does not go far enough after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course.

Calum Semple, a professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said there are ‘several sectors of society which will need to increase their restrictions unfortunately’.

It was claimed overnight Mr Johnson had initially backed a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors before Chancellor Rishi Sunak persuaded him to take a less severe course after warning of economic carnage.

Setting out his proposals to MPs in the House of Commons at lunchtime, Mr Johnson said the UK is at a ‘perilous turning point’ amid a surge in infections across the country.

He said: ‘This is the moment when we must act.

‘If we can curb the number of daily infections and reduce the reproduction rate to one then we can save lives, protect the NHS and the most vulnerable and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later on.’

Mr Johnson said workers who can work from home should now do so. 

He told the Commons: ‘We must take action to suppress the disease. First we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so.

‘In key public services and in all professions where home working is not possible such a construction or retail people should continue to attend their workplaces.’

He also set out an extension of the current rules on the wearing of face masks, telling MPs: ‘We will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles and staff and customers in indoor hospitality expect when seated at a table to eat or drink.’

He added: ‘These rules, these measures will only work if people comply and there is nothing more frustrating for the vast majority who do comply, the law abiding majority, than the sight of a few brazenly defying the rules.

Boris Johnson’s 10pm curfew ‘isn’t enough’, claims SAGE adviser

Boris Johnson’s 10pm curfew for all pubs, bars and restaurants will not be enough to curb the spread of the coronavirus, one of the government’s scientific advisors warned today.

Professor Calum Semple, from the University of Liverpool and a member of SAGE, said the measures will ‘have to go further’ to halt Britain’s rapidly growing outbreak.

And he said tougher restrictions are likely to be needed for the hospitality sector, which today hit back at the curfew and called it ‘another crushing blow’.

Professor Semple said: ‘In time, it will probably have to go further than a 10pm curfew and table service only.’ He also warned that ministers may have to consider ‘restricting inter-mingling between households’.

He said new measures needed could include keeping people away from the office on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, just minutes before Michael Gove confirmed the government is ditching its back to work drive.

And Professor Semple added: ‘I think the Rule of Six has been tried, it’s not had time to kick in yet, but based on the numbers I’m seeing, it doesn’t go far enough.

‘The epidemiologists and scientists that I work with, and I’m not just talking about the ones on SAGE, I’d say there’s hardly a cigarette paper’s thickness between what we feel about this.

‘The time to act is now, we are in a serious situation, and the numbers that are rising are tracking the current worst case scenario.

Explaining the situation at his local hospital in Wirral, Liverpool, he warned there were already several cases in intensive care.

‘We’re seeing a rise in hospital admissions,’ he said. ‘I can tell you our hospital on the Wirral has several cases in the intensive care unit.

‘A study that I run which looks at hospital cases in England, Scotland and Wales is seeing a rapid rise in case admissions and, interestingly, we’re actually seeing a rise in people between the age of 20 and 40, particularly women, which we didn’t see previously.

‘And that suggests that it’s community exposure in hospitality settings and care settings, which we didn’t see before, probably because people under the age of 50 are less invested in social distancing.’ 

‘So these rules will be enforced by tighter penalties. We have already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate and such fines will not be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules.

‘The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.

‘We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.’

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman later clarified military personnel could be used to fill police office roles and to guard protected sites in order to free up officers so they can go out and enforce the coronavirus rules. 

The spokesman said soldiers would not be replacing the police in enforcement roles ‘and they will not be handing out fines’. 

Mr Johnson also said that if the latest wave of measures fails to bring the disease under control then the Government will not hesitate to impose even tougher restrictions. 

He said: ‘I must emphasise that if all our actions fail to bring the R below one then we reserved the right to deploy greater fire power with significantly greater restrictions.’

He added: ‘We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown. We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.’

The unveiling of the new restrictions immediately prompted business concerns amid fears they will inevitably lead to more job losses. 

CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn told the BBC: ‘It is now desperately urgent to have a successor scheme to the furlough scheme.

‘It has been a huge success. It has saved thousands and thousands of jobs but there is a cliff-edge looming. And, now, with today’s announcement that is more urgent than ever.

‘We are calling for the Treasury to announce a successor scheme very quickly. It should be more targeted. It doesn’t need to be quite as generous. But, if we are going to protect jobs… in the medium-term it needs to be brought in within days or weeks. This is now desperately urgent.’

Ms Fairbairn also said ‘there can be no avoiding the crushing blow’ the new proposals on working from home will bring for firms, particularly those in city centres. 

Mr Gove confirmed the shift on working from home this morning, telling Sky News: ‘There is going to be a shift in emphasis and one of the things that we are going to emphasise is if it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so.

‘Now, it is important to stress there are many, many, many roles which can’t be performed from home.

‘There are people in manufacturing, in construction, in retail and in other roles where we recognise that is simply impossible and that is why we have worked to make sure you can have Covid-secure workplaces and we need to balance, obviously, the need to ensure that people can continue to work and indeed critically continue to go to school and to benefit from education against taking steps to try to reduce the virus which is why we can limit or appropriately restrain social contact, that is what we are trying to do.’ 

He also said plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have been ‘paused’.  

Michael Gove today confirmed the Government is ditching its back to work drive as he said people who can work from home should now do so

Michael Gove today confirmed the Government is ditching its back to work drive as he said people who can work from home should now do so

The decision to ditch the back to work drive represents a damaging moment for Mr Johnson who has been actively encouraging workers to go back to their offices. A London Underground train is pictured this morning

The decision to ditch the back to work drive represents a damaging moment for Mr Johnson who has been actively encouraging workers to go back to their offices. A London Underground train is pictured this morning

THIRTY TWO academics urge Boris Johnson to think twice about plunging Britain into a second lockdown – as questions mount about advisors’ doomsday numbers

A group of scientists and doctors have written to the Prime Minister urging him not to opt for a second lockdown and to stop presenting Covid-19 as a mortal danger.

Thirty-two top academics have called on Boris Johnson and his scientific and medical advisers to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to rising cases and hospitalisations.

They said the debate about coronavirus is ‘unhelpful’ because it is divided between people who want total lockdowns and people who want no restrictions at all.

Calling for decision-makers to ‘step back’ and think carefully about what to do next, the researchers said there had not yet been any ‘readily observable pattern’ between tight social distancing rules and the numbers of people dying of coronavirus.

The open letter was written by Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Carl Heneghan, by the University of Buckingham’s Professor Karol Sikora, and by Sam Williams, director of the consultancy firm Economic Insight.

Tweeting a copy of the letter today, cancer doctor Professor Sikora pleaded: ‘We desperately need a rethink to find a better balance’.

It comes amid fierce criticism from experts of the Government’s top scientists after they presented a ‘doomsday’ scenario of 50,000 daily coronavirus cases within a month – which appeared not to be backed by data from France and Spain. 

‘It is the case that we’ve been piloting some open air venues, and we do want to be able in due course to allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘But it is the case that we just need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate.’

He added: ‘It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans.

‘We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme. But what we do want to do is to make sure that as and when circumstances allow, (we) get more people back.’

Mr Gove was unable to say how long the Government’s new coronavirus measures are expected to last. 

‘What we hope is we can take appropriate steps now, which mean that if we succeed in beating back the virus, then we will in the future be able to progressively relax them,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘But what I can’t do is predict with absolute certainty.’ 

Pressed on whether it would be months or weeks, Mr Gove said: ‘It is the case, as Professor Vallance and Chris Whitty pointed out yesterday, that we’re going to have a challenging next six months.’

Mr Gove insisted the Government was taking ‘reluctant steps’ with the new coronavirus measures, but added that they are ‘absolutely necessary’.

‘There will be more details that the Prime Minister will spell out, and again, one of the points that he’ll make is that no one wants to do these things, no one wants to take these steps,’ he told Sky News.

‘They are reluctant steps that we’re taking, but they are absolutely necessary.

‘Because as we were reminded yesterday, and as you’ve been reporting, the rate of infection is increasing, the number of people going to hospital is increasing, and therefore we need to act.’

He insisted there is evidence to support the Government’s decision to set the curfew on pubs and restaurants at 10pm. 

He told the BBC: ‘There is evidence that the longer venues stay open, the greater degree of social mixing that takes place.

‘So, placing a restriction like this is something that we’ve already done in parts of the country where the virus has been spreading particularly fast.’

It was claimed overnight that Mr Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had pushed for a total shutdown of the hospitality sector. 

The Times reported a ‘consensus’ formed around the move last Thursday with members of Sage also on board on the grounds that it would not be possible to predict the impact of a curfew.  

The Prime Minister is said to have initially been supportive of the shutdown plan which sparked concern in the Treasury and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, prompting Mr Sunak to ask for a meeting with Mr Johnson. 

That meeting took place on Friday as Mr Sunak warned of the economic damage a total shutdown of the hospitality sector could do, leading to Mr Johnson changing his mind and pushing forward with the less severe curfew plans instead. 

Official Downing Street slides showed that if the current rate of infection continues there could be 50,000 coronavirus cases every day by the middle of October and that could lead to 200 plus deaths a day by the middle of November

Official Downing Street slides showed that if the current rate of infection continues there could be 50,000 coronavirus cases every day by the middle of October and that could lead to 200 plus deaths a day by the middle of November 

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association, warned the measures could trigger ‘a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot-beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues’.

Ian Wright, the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: ‘These new restrictions on the UK’s fragile hospitality and food service sector are a potentially fatal blow to manufacturers who specialise in supplying the hospitality sector. 

‘Many pubs and coffee shops will not be able to trade profitably under these new rules and will have to close again, with further threats from enforced closure due to local or national lockdowns.’ 

The measures also sparked a Tory backlash, with senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin labelling them a ‘terrible blow’.  

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The people running pubs, owning pubs, these people are in terrible strain.

‘And the life line of the bounce back loans and the grants has kept these people, just about, their heads above water, and this will be a terrible blow to them.’

He added: ‘What would be the worst case is if we have to have another major lockdown. That would be terrible for the economy.

‘And, so anything that can avoid that risk, or mitigate that risk, seems to be justified.

He said Parliament must debate and vote on the measures being proposed by the Government after his Tory colleagues yesterday accused Mr Johnson of ‘ruling by decree’.

There are already fears that the Government will have to impose more draconian restrictions in the coming weeks and months. 

Professor Semple was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if he believed the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars will be enough to stop the spread of infection. 

He replied: ‘No, it is not going to be. There is several sectors of society which will need to increase their restrictions unfortunately but it is necessary now because we are starting to see rising cases not just in the frail elderly but also in people under the age of 50.’

Asked what else could soon be subject to a clampdown, the Sage adviser said: ‘We are going to have to see potentially reductions in the sporting events and that is going to hit many of us hard because we enjoy the football, the boxing, other activities particularly in the north west of England.

‘We are likely to see increased restrictions on the hospitality sector I think in time, it probably will have to go further than 10 o’clock curfew and table service only, I think that is very likely.’

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey today said the rise in Covid-19 cases is ‘extremelt difficult news for all of us’ but the Bank is prepared to act to protect businesses where it can. 

Just FIVE PER CENT of Covid infections are passed on in pubs and restaurants

Ministers have been warned that a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many businesses still treading water after the first wave of Covid-19.

Exasperated hospitality bosses are fuming that they are bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus crackdown when Government figures show a comparably low spread of the disease in food and drink outlets.

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs – 45 per cent were in care homes, 21 per cent in schools and 18 per cent in places of work.

Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin said: ‘The curfew doesn’t even stand up to five minutes consideration by an intelligent person because if you look at the stats… there are relatively few transfers of infections in pubs.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, urged the Government to heed its own statistics because the curfew could take a sledgehammer to the industry which is already ‘on its knees’.

She said this morning: ‘People will think it’s not that significant, but it really will have a big economic impact on jobs, not just on pubs, but also for cafes and restaurants.’

FTSE 100 claws back some losses after yesterday’s £51bn plunge with markets opening 0.3% up by 38 points to 5,820 after 10pm curfew was announced for pubs and restaurants

The FTSE 100 clawed back ground this morning after the worst sell off since June saw more than £50billion wiped off the value of Britain’s blue chip companies.

The index was 0.3 per cent in the green at opening today – up 38 points to 5,821 – a day after a £51bn plunge amid a market rout across Europe and America caused by a spike in Covid infections.

Pub chains and airlines were hammered as ministers warned of new rules to limit social contact, while banking shares slid amid fresh claims of money laundering. 

Meanwhile, the pound slipped to a two-month low against the dollar today ahead of the restrictions. 

Sterling fell 0.51 per cent to $1.2751 against the dollar, the lowest level since July 24 while the pound was down 0.25 per cent against the European common currency at 92 pence.  

Speaking on a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) webinar, Mr Bailey said: ‘The latest news, that we are seeing a very unfortunate, faster return of Covid-19 is extremely difficult news for all of us and the whole country.

‘That does reinforce the downside risks we have in our forecasts.

‘The Bank of England will do everything we can do within our remit and powers to support the businesses and people of this country and we will do that.’

Elsewhere, Sir Keir Starmer said a second national lockdown would be a ‘sign of Government failure, not an act of God’ that would take an ‘immense toll’ on public health and the economy.

Sir Keir used his first Labour Party conference speech as leader to argue there should be ‘nothing inevitable about a second lockdown’. 

Speaking from Doncaster, he told the virtual party conference: ‘The warnings yesterday from the Government’s advisers were stark. They can’t be ignored.

‘Labour will act in the national interest. We will be a constructive opposition. We will support whatever reasonable steps are necessary to save lives and protect our NHS.

‘But I also want to say this: There should be nothing inevitable about a second lockdown.

‘It would be a sign of Government failure, not an act of God. It would take an immense toll on people’s physical and mental health and on the economy. We need a national effort to prevent a national lockdown.’

Sir Keir also claimed the ‘incompetence’ of the Government is ‘holding Britain back’. 

He said: ‘I think Britain has so much yet to achieve. And it angers me that this Government is holding us back.

‘I’ve tried to be constructive. I appreciate that these are unprecedented times and that governing is difficult. I’ve tried to be fair, to give the Government the benefit of the doubt.

‘But now, with one of the highest death rates in the world, and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions anywhere, I’m afraid there is no doubt.

‘This Government’s incompetence is holding Britain back.’

The PM’s announcement of new crackdown measures comes after the Government’s two top scientists painted a grim picture of what could happen if the UK does not get coronavirus under control. 

Sir Patrick said yesterday that there could be 50,000 new daily cases by October and more than 200 daily deaths by November – numbers which provoked anger from some scientific critics who suggested he was being far too negative. 

Speaking alongside Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Patrick said the ‘vast majority of the population remain susceptible’ to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down. 

Prof Whitty suggested that reducing social contacts was a key way to curb the spread but acknowledged there was a balance to be struck in terms of protecting the economy.

‘Ministers making decisions – and all of society – have to walk this very difficult balance,’ he said.

‘If we do too little, this virus will go out of control and you will get significant numbers of increased direct and indirect deaths.

‘But if we go too far the other way, then we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment, to poverty, to deprivation – all of which have long-term health effects, so we need always to keep these two sides in mind.’

He suggested that science would eventually ‘ride to our rescue’, but ‘in this period of the next six months, I think we have to realise that we have to take this, collectively, very seriously’. 

The UK’s four chief medical officers last night recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the ‘epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially’.

Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown statement in full 

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement on our response to the rising number of Coronavirus cases and how we must act now to avoid still graver consequences later on.

At every stage in this pandemic we have struck a delicate balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and minimising the wider impact of our restrictions.

And it is because of the common sense and fortitude of the British people that earlier this year we were able to avert an even worse catastrophe, forming a human shield around our NHS, and then by getting our country moving again by reopening key sectors of our economy and returning children to school.

But we always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real. 

And I am sorry to say that – as in Spain and France and many other countries – we have reached a perilous turning point.

A month ago, on average around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day.

The latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929.

Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections next month.

I wish I could reassure the House that the growing number of cases is merely a function of more testing, but a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result.

I also wish I could say that more of our people now have the antibodies to keep the virus off, but the latest data suggest that fewer than 8 per cent of us are in this position.

It is true that the number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29,  but the evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups, as we have seen in France and Spain where this has led to increased hospital admissions and, sadly, more deaths.

In the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.

Tens of thousands of daily infections in October would, as night follows day, lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November and those numbers would continue to grow unless we act.

And as with all respiratory viruses, Covid is likely to spread faster as autumn becomes winter.

Yesterday, on the advice of the four Chief Medical Officers, the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, the second most serious stage, meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially.

So this is the moment when we must act.

If we can curb the number of daily infections, and reduce the Reproduction rate to 1, then we can save lives, protect the NHS, and the most vulnerable, and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later.

So we are acting on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine.

The Government will introduce new restrictions in England, carefully judged to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number with the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods.

I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.

We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people. We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.

However, we must take action to suppress the disease.

First, we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so.

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.

And like Government, this House will be free to take forward its business in a Covid-secure way which you, Mr Speaker, have pioneered.

Second, from Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, Mr Speaker, except for takeaways.

Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.

To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount.

The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.

I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act to stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants.

Third, we will extend the requirement to wear face coverings 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. 

Fourth, in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.

Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules. 

Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six.

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.

We will also have to extend the rule of six to all adult indoor team sports.

Finally, we have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events so we will not be able to do this from 1 October.

And I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities, and my RH Friends the Chancellor and Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.

Mr Speaker, these rules measures will only work if people comply. 

There is nothing more frustrating for the vast majority, the law-abiding majority that do comply than the sight of a few brazenly defying the rules. So these rules will be enforced by tighter penalties.

We have already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate and such fines will now be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules.

The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.

We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.

The measures I have announced all apply in England and the Devolved Administrations are taking similar steps.

I spoke yesterday with each of the First Ministers and again today and I thank them for their collaboration: the health of everyone in these islands depends on our common success.

Already about 13 million people across England are living under various local restrictions, over and above national measures.

We will continue to act against local flare-ups, working alongside councils and strengthening measures where necessary.

And I want to speak directly to those who were shielding early in the pandemic and may be anxious about being at greater risk.

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. 

I must emphasise that if all our actions fail to bring the R below 1, then we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.

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.

Mr Speaker, we will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress, 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.

We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip; nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown; we are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.

I know all of this will have profound consequences for our constituents, so the government will give the House every opportunity to scrutinise our decisions.

In addition to regular statements and debates, Hon Members will be able to question the government’s scientific advisers more regularly, gain access to data about their constituencies, your constituencies and join daily calls with my RH Friend the Paymaster General.

After six months of restrictions, it would be tempting to hope that the threat has faded, and seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far then you are somehow immune. 

I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing.

If we fail to act together now we will not only place others at risk but jeopardise our own futures with the more drastic action that we would inevitably be forced to take.

Mr Speaker, no British government would wish to stifle our freedoms in the ways that we have found necessary this year.

Yet even now we can draw some comfort from the fact that schools and universities and places of worship are staying open, shops can serve their customers, construction workers can go to building sites, and the vast majority of the UK economy can continue moving forwards. 

We are also, Mr Speaker, better prepared for a second wave, with the ventilators, the PPE, the dexamethasone, the Nightingale Hospitals, and a hundred times as much testing.

So now it falls to each of us and every one of us to remember the basics – wash our hands, cover our faces, observe social distancing – and follow the rules.

Then we can fight back against this virus, shelter our economy from even greater damage, protect the most vulnerable in care homes and hospitals, safeguard our NHS and save many more lives.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Those new rules in full that will wipe out Christmas and New Year: Working from home is back, facemasks in pubs and restaurants – and will hairdressers and gyms be included in the Rule of Six?

Boris Johnson apologetically took a hammer to Britons’ social lives today as he reintroduced lockdown measures in England to last possibly six months to see off a second wave of coronavirus.

Pubs and other leisure and hospitality businesses like restaurants will face a 10pm curfew from Thursday.

People working in retail, those travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality will also have to wear face coverings – except while seated at a table to eat or drink.

And in a dramatic reversal of the Government’s recent drive to get people back to workplaces, all office workers will be advised to work from home where they can as soon as possible. 

In a grave Commons statement the Prime Minister warned that the new curbs could last for six months – taking them well beyond Christmas – ‘unless we palpably make progress’. 

Here we look at the new rules that have been unveiled today: 

PUBS AND RESTAURANTS

ENGLAND — 

From this Thursday, pubs and restaurants will have to close at 10pm. This means last orders will have to take place some time after 9pm.

Customers will not be allowed to order drinks at the bar. All pubs and bars must become table service only, like restaurants.

This is a change from the current rules, where standing at the bar for a pint was allowed as long as there was social distancing in place.

It also applies to takeaway services, many of which sustained businesses through the worst of the original lockdown.

But food (and drink) deliveries are allowed to continue after 10am because it is easier to limit human contact.

In a grave Commons statement the Prime Minister warned that the new curbs could last for six months - taking them well beyond Christmas - 'unless we palpably make progress'

In a grave Commons statement the Prime Minister warned that the new curbs could last for six months – taking them well beyond Christmas – ‘unless we palpably make progress’

WALES, SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND —

The same rules for England apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

IS THE 10PM CURFEW ECONOMICALLY DAMAGING?

The Prime Minister told the Commons ‘the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed’.

In reply to Meg Hillier, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee he said: ‘These are not easy decisions, nobody wants to be curtailing the right of restaurants and other businesses to go about their lawful business.

‘What we have seen from the evidence is that alas the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed.

‘This is one way that we see of driving down the R without doing excessive economic damage and that’s the balance we have to strike.’

Ministers have been warned that a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many businesses still treading water after the first wave of Covid-19.

Exasperated hospitality bosses are fuming that they are bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus crackdown when Government figures show a comparably low spread of the disease in food and drink outlets.

Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs – 45 per cent were in care homes, 21 per cent in schools and 18 per cent in places of work.

People sit in a restaurant in Covent Garden in London today as the PM clobbered civil liberties

People sit in a restaurant in Covent Garden in London today as the PM clobbered civil liberties

Pubs like the French House in Soho, central London, will have to close at 10pm. That is not last orders at 10pm, that is close at 10pm.

Pubs like the French House in Soho, central London, will have to close at 10pm. That is not last orders at 10pm, that is close at 10pm.

Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin said: ‘The curfew doesn’t even stand up to five minutes consideration by an intelligent person because if you look at the stats… there are relatively few transfers of infections in pubs.’

The Government faced renewed calls to do more to support businesses, with the hospitality industry warning that the new restrictions would be a ‘crushing blow’.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said: ‘It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just 5 per cent of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.’

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, warned the measures could trigger ‘a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot-beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues’.

Up to 6,000 jobs are being axed at Premier Inn owner Whitbread, which also operates the Beefeater pubs and Brewers Fayre chains.

The Wetherspoon pub chain also said it had written to its 1,000 airport staff to warn them that between 400 and 450 jobs are at risk of redundancy.

Officer workers have been told to work from home 'if possible' although those in 'key public services and in all professions' where this is not possible, such as construction and retail, should continue to go in

Officer workers have been told to work from home ‘if possible’ although those in ‘key public services and in all professions’ where this is not possible, such as construction and retail, should continue to go in

WORKING FROM HOME

Officer workers have been told to work from home ‘if possible’ although those in ‘key public services and in all professions’ where this is not possible, such as construction and retail, should continue to go in.

According to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove: ‘We are stressing that if it is safe to work in your workplace, if you are in a Covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it.

‘But, if you can work from home you should.’

The new message brings England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have all advised people to work from home wherever possible throughout the pandemic.

If businesses are not Covid-secure, flout the mask regulations or break the Rule of Six, they will be fined £10,000 or closed down.

If people prevent others from self-isolating – such as bosses threatening redundancy – they can also be fined.

FACEMASKS

Face masks must be worn by customers in indoor hospitality and leisure venues, except while seated at a table to eat or drink.

Coverings must also be worn in taxis and private hire vehicles from tomorrow, and by retail staff at work — though most had already brought in this requirement anyway.

For people who do not wear face coverings, and who are not exempt, in places legally stated there are fines of £200 in England, or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.

Commuters walk across the London Bridge during the morning rush hour in September

Commuters walk across the London Bridge during the morning rush hour in September

A man enjoys a a drink at The Kings Ford pub in Chingford, East London, as the PM made his announcement in the Commons this afternoon

A man enjoys a a drink at The Kings Ford pub in Chingford, East London, as the PM made his announcement in the Commons this afternoon

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.

‘Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,’ he said.

‘Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.

‘Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.

‘If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.’

RULE OF SIX AND SELF-ISOLATION

The Rule of Six has been extended to take in ‘leisure, entertainment, tourism and close contact’ sectors’. The later includes hairdressers and other beauty treatments.

More details are awaited on what else specifically it will mean for places like gyms, although Mr Johnson today banned indoor group sports like five-a-side football.

So it means that currently hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons can still operate, but they will need to cut still further the number of people they can serve at any one time.

Anyone who breaks the rules on social gatherings in England will be fined £200 with the penalty doubling on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.

Businesses that break the Rule of Six will be fined £10,000 or closed down.

Further guidance is expected on the specifics of this but has yet to be published by the Government.

People with coronavirus symptoms who do not self-isolate will face fines of £1,000, rising to £10,000 for repeat offences from September 28.

SCHOOLS

Schools will remain unaffected by the new restrictions. Along with protecting the economy, one of the main thrusts of today’s announcements is the Government’s desire to prioritise keeping schools open.

Mr Johnson said: ‘I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.

‘We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people. We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.’

WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS

From next Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions in England have to be capped at 15 people — down from 30 people.

But funeral services are exempt from the new restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30.

Celebrations held this weekend will narrowly avoid the new restrictions.

Setting out the measures in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: ‘Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the Rule of Six.

‘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.’

From next Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions in England have to be capped at 15 people — down from 30 people. But funeral services are exempt from the new restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30

From next Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions in England have to be capped at 15 people — down from 30 people. But funeral services are exempt from the new restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30

Current guidance states that up to 30 attendees are permitted in Wales, while in Scotland, ceremonies and receptions are limited to 20 people, and numbers are dependent on the venue in Northern Ireland.

One bride, due to get married on December 12 after being engaged for five years, who had originally planned a wedding with 100 people in Norfolk, said she felt ‘gutted’ following the announcement.

‘We are then seeing people say online that it doesn’t matter, it’s not important and at least we don’t have Covid and then we feel like our feelings are not valid,’ 40-year-old Laura Brown told the PA news agency.

‘It’s a day but it’s so much more than a day, because of all the emotions that go into it.’

Meanwhile, self-employed wedding celebrant Chris Gray, from Glasgow, called the restrictions around weddings ‘nonsensical’, such as couples being required to wear coverings during the ceremony.

The 29-year-old added: ‘That’s led so many people having to cancel or rearrange weddings and in the short-term it’s been an absolute hammer blow for cash flow for me.’

OTHER PUBLIC SPACES

SPORTS MATCHES

In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned.

Mr Johnson announced that the planned return of spectators to sports venues in England could be on hold for six months, raising the prospect of months more of games behind closed doors.

A number of pilot test events, in which capacities have been capped at 1,000, have taken place and it was hoped venues would be allowed to welcome more spectators from the start of October.

In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned

In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned

In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned

In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned

But the PM set out a range of tough new restrictions for England designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

‘We have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events,’ he told the House of Commons.

‘So we will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs which are the life and soul of our communities, and… the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.’

He said the measures being announced on Tuesday would remain in place for ‘perhaps six months’.

It is a devastating blow to sporting organisations, many of whom rely heavily on match-day revenue for survival, and there have already been calls from governing bodies for the government to provide emergency funding.

Professional sport, including the Premier League and Test cricket, has largely been played behind closed doors since it returned following the coronavirus shutdown earlier this year.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed all pilot events scheduled for September had now been cancelled. They will now take place with no fans.

In a statement this afternoon, the Premier League said fans would be ‘as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted’.

‘The Premier League notes the Government’s announcement today and while the health of the nation must remain everyone’s priority, we are disappointed that the safe return of supporters to matches has been postponed,’ it said.

‘The Premier League is certain that, through League-wide guidelines and a code of conduct developed with scientific experts and agreed by the Government’s Sports Ground Safety Authority, fans in stadiums will be as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted. This is already evident in other European leagues.’ 

How long will the new restrictions be in place for? 

The new restrictions brought in today could last for six months – but Mr Johnson has insisted they are not a return to the national lockdown seen in March. 

He said: ‘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. 

‘We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor those who urge a permanent lockdown. We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.’ 

Many families will be anxious for Christmas after hearing the new rules – but ministers have insisted they do not want to ruin the holiday season. 

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