Boris Johnson COVID-19 restrictions for England which could last for up to six months.

The UK has reached “a perilous turning point”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he set out a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England which could last for up to six months.

Face masks will be mandatory for retail staff and weddings will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, as part of the new measures.

Penalties for breaking the rules will increase to £200 for a first offence.

He warned “significantly greater restrictions” could come if necessary.

Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this morning with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson said “similar steps” would be taken across the UK.

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“We always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real. I’m sorry to say that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we’ve reached a perilous turning point,” he said.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons he would provide police and local authorities with extra funding to enforce the regulations and the option to draw on military support.

He said the new rules were “carefully judged” to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number – which measures how quickly the virus is spreading – while causing “the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods”.

He said this was “by no means a return to the full lockdown of March”, with no general instructions to stay at home. Businesses, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.

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In the last fortnight, hospital admissions have doubled and Covid-19 is likely to spread faster in winter, Mr Johnson said, adding: “So this is the moment when we must act.”

If these restrictions fail to bring the R number below one – the point where the epidemic is no longer growing – “then we reserve the right to deploy greater fire power with significantly greater restrictions” he said.

Under the new measures:

  • Penalties for not wearing a mask or gathering in groups of more than six will increase to £200 on the first offence
  • From Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service only. Takeaways can continue
  • Hospitality venues must close at 22:00 – which means shutting then, not calling for last orders”
  • Office workers are being told to work from home if possible
  • The planned return of spectators to sports venues will now not go ahead from October 1
  • Face coverings must be worn by shop staff, taxi drivers and passengers
  • Customers in indoor hospitality venues will also have to wear masks, except when seated at a table to eat or drink
  • Exemptions to the “rule of six” will be cut back, meaning indoor team sports such as five-a-side football matches will end.
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