Hospitality to close by 10pm and face coverings mandatory in more places

Hospitality to close by 10pm and face coverings mandatory in more places

Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will have to shut by 10pm and offer table service only from Thursday 24th September 2020 under new nationwide restrictions to halt an “exponential” rise in coronavirus cases.

With cases doubling every week across the UK and a second wave expected to last up to six months, health officials had advised the government over the weekend to “move hard and fast”, according to a source. Meanwhile, the Treasury was concerned that many businesses had no buffer to withstand a significant new economic hit.

The UK’s Covid-19 alert level was raised to 4 on Monday 21st September, meaning the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.

In summary, the new measures are:

– 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 from Thursday – which means shutting then, not calling for last orders (in Scotland the same curfew rule comes into force on Friday)

– 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 1 October

– 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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says face coverings will become compulsory in England for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers to help control the spread of coronavirus.

The requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail staff and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink and covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors.

The public in England will once again be asked to work from home if they can, Michael Gove has said, this new government advice hopes to combat the spread of coronavirus that he said could help “avert the need for more serious action in the future”.

In broadcast interviews before Boris Johnson sets out the full raft of measures in the Commons later today (Tuesday 22nd September), Gove described the latest change in restrictions as a “shift in emphasis” but unavoidable. He told Sky News: “The rate of infection is increasing, the number of people going to hospital is increasing, and therefore we need to act.”

Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, later told the BBC’s Today programme: “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.”

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

“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 said. “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.”

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