Boris Johnson today announced new measures to curb the increasing spread of coronavirus, including asking people to work from home if possible, and warning that the military could be deployed to enforce rules.
In a speech to the House of Commons, Johnson outlined that new measures would be introduced following a cautionary briefing yesterday from the chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance, and chief medical officer Chris Whitty. Both scientists warned that the UK had reached a critical point, with cases rising in all age groups, set to worsen due to the approaching cold weather if no further restrictions were introduced.
In a series of new measures, Johnson said that individuals should work from home if they can, mere months after encouraging people to return to the office. This is a notable U-turn from July, when ministers warned that workers could be at higher risk of losing their job if they continued to work from home.
New rules also include requiring pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10 PM, and making face masks mandatory for hospitality and retail staff. Fines for not abiding by these rules will rise from £100 to £200 for a first-time offence.
There will also be a ban on indoor sports with teams over six. Wedding attendance will be capped at 15, while funeral numbers will be capped at 30. All guidelines could be in place for up to six months, the Prime Minister warned.
Johnson also made clear that measures would be taken to enforce these restrictions more effectively. Alongside a rise in fines, the Prime Minister said that the military could be deployed if the rules are not followed. He also warned that the restrictions could increase.
“After six months of restrictions, it would be tempting to hope the threat has faded and seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far then you are somehow immune,” said Johnson. “That sort of complacency could be our undoing. If we fail to act together now, we not only put others at risk but jeopardise our own futures with the more drastic action that we will inevitably be forced to take.”