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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has increased the fines for breaking laws on ‘rule of six‘ and not wearing a face covering to £200 for a first offence.
Mr Johnson said the country has reached ‘a perilous turning point’ as he set out new coronavirus restriction for England which he said will last for six months.
Face covering is also made compulsory for shop staff. and weddings are now limited to 15 people.
Bar staff, shop workers, taxi drivers, waiters are all affected under the new restrictions in a bid to fight the upsurge cases of COVID-19 in England, the PM said.
The PM warned that if care is not taken, a ‘significantly greater restrictions’ could come.
Violaters of face mask will be fined £200 and will be extended to customers when they are not seated at a table, according to Mr Johnson’s new rule.
The PM disclosed the new rules at the House of Common on Tuesday. He said “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.”
Mr Johnson added: “We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions that I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”
Under the new measures for England:
- 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 again if possible, the PM confirmed
- 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
Johnson made it clear that the new rules were not in any way a full lockdown as it was in March. He assured that his government was not issuing any general instructions to stay at home.
“We will ensure that schools, colleges, universities stay open because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people,” the PM told MPs.
Mr Johnson also hinted that troops could be deployed in the street to allow police officers to focus on enforcing coronavirus rules.
According to Number 10 spokesperson, this would mean the military ‘backfilling certain duties’, continuing, he said “This is not about providing any additional powers to the military, or them replacing the police in enforcement roles, and they will not be handing out fines.”
Reacting Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer assured Boris Johnson that his party would support the latest measures, but noted that the public could be worried that the government ‘doesn’t have a strategy’.
He said “one day people are encouraged to work in the office, in fact, more than encourage, they were openly challenged by the Prime Minister for not doing so, and today, they are told the opposite.
Sir Stamer stressed the need for “clear leadership” adding that the country is in a time of crisis.