Earlier this week the Prime Minister addressed the nation to outline new measures required to fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The announcement comes as the Joint Biosecurity Centre recommended the COVID-19 alert level moves from level 3, which means the virus is in general circulation, to level 4 where transmission is high or rising exponentially.
The new restrictions include:
- Working from home where possible: Office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. If you cannot work from home, you should go to your place of work. Employers are reminded that the risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if the government’s COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely.
- Hospitality venues: All pubs, bars and restaurants are now table service only and must close at 10pm.
- Face coverings: The requirement to wear a face covering has been extended to retail staff, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
- Gatherings and the ‘rule of six’: Exemptions to the rule of six will be cut back. From Monday 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings and civil partnerships, in groups of six. Funerals can still take place with up to 30 people. Also from Monday, you can only play indoor sports in groups of less than six.
- Enforcement: Penalties for not wearing a mask or gathering in groups of more than six will increase to £200 for the first offence.
- COVID-19 secure measures: In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, the COVID-19 secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.
- Further ahead: The planned return of business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events from Thursday 1 October will no longer be possible.
- Shielding: The guidance for people who were shielding earlier in the pandemic continues to be that shielding is not required, but the government is keeping this under constant review.