Boris Johnson has unveiled a major crackdown on normal life in a bid to stop a second surge of the coronavirus.
He will drop his back to work drive, announce constraints on socialising and levy a 10 pm curfew on bars and restaurants from Thursday.
Pubs and other outlets will be permitted to serve seated patrons only and drinkers will be prohibited from assembling in groups.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said it was crucial to break unnecessary links between households.
Northern Ireland announced a prohibition on families visiting other households and there was conjecture England could follow suit.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned COVID transmission tended to be in social settings – people coming round to your house, or you going out and socialising.
The limitation on guests at weddings may also be cut from the present limit of 30 and a senior Government source last night acknowledged the Prime Minister’s back to work drive would be paused after scientific advisers warned that workplace transmission was a problem.
In July, Boris Johnson urged staff to go back to work if they could in a bid to stop city centres becoming ghost towns, but a source told a news outlet that workers will be urged to work from home if they can during the coming weeks.
Ministers for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove confirmed the U-turn as he told Sky News that there was going to be a shift in emphasis and one of the things that they were going to highlight, that if it was feasible for people to work from home then they would urge them to do so.
The Prime Minister was reportedly ready to shut down the whole hospitality sector after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and the Government’s scientists started pushing hard for more draconian measures, but it’s understood that the Cabinet’s economic hawks, guided by Chancellor Rishi Sunak hauled him back from that threshold.
The constraints have divided the Cabinet, with Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma both warning about the possible impact on the economy, but a senior Government source insisted all ministers accepted the move was needed to bring the R rate, which calculates how quickly the disease is circulating, back under control.
The source said the aim is to cause maximum damage to the R and minimum damage to the economy and that unless they act now, there will be greater economic damage later on.
Businesses and schools will be permitted to stay open, with Government sources insisting the measures don’t amount to a second lockdown, but the prospect of a 10 pm curfew has sparked outrage from the hospitality sector with the UK Hospitality group describing it as another crushing disappointment amid worries it will lead to a wave of unregulated events and house parties.
So, here we go again – it’s like a recall back into the 1980s when pubs had limited hours and it was difficult then to purchase beer and to take it away. What this Government should be doing is treating people like grown-ups, and apprehend those that misbehave.
But it also makes you wonder if Rishi Sunak’s Eat out to Help out has caused this in part, and now that Boris Johnson’s having this crackdown, does this include all MP’s or are they excused?
And it seems that having suffered COVID 19 Boris Johnson seems terrified to run this country. Sweden appears to have the right idea because we can’t keep shutting people away when so many more are dying of cancer, heart problems and depression.
But it seems that the British Government want to suppress our freedoms and I really don’t know how Boris Johnson has the brass nerve when his cabinet ministers don’t know how to follow the rules either.
And if you think about it logically, this virus derived from a country where people have worn masks for decades, so how do you explain that? Unless, of course, the masks cause illnesses and disease.
There is so much chaos and contradictory guidance it’s incredible, and I respect that as the situation alters so must the direction, but it seems that people just can’t keep up with the changing guidance.
And I fail to see how a 10 pm curfew will actually do anything. It might lower the numbers in late-night drinking places but does the virus actually know that it has to go home by 10 pm?
People will still come into close contact all day long transmitting the virus and when all said and done, there’s really no way of getting rid of this virus apart from a vaccine or simply letting the virus burn out by itself.
Once upon a time nations set sail across the seas to far off lands filled with unknown dangers and we left our mark, now all we’ll have to put on our gravestone is: “Here lies the United Kingdom – we followed the science”.