Saying the nation has reached a “perilous turning point,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tuesday imposed new coronavirus-related restrictions on bars and restaurants and urged people to work from home, as the nation faces a surge in new cases.
Speaking to parliament, Johnson said hospitalizations have doubled in the past two weeks, and those numbers will only grow unless action is taken.
The new restrictions include closing bars, pubs and restaurants at 10 p.m. local time. Face coverings are required for retail staff and taxi drivers as well as passengers on public transportation. Weddings can only have a maximum of 15 people, while funerals can still have up to 30 participants.
Johnson also urged those who can work from home to do so, a reversal from just two weeks ago, when he was urging people to return to their places of employment. Plans to allow business conferences or spectators at sporting events by October 1 have been put on hold.
The government is also imposing fines for those businesses and individuals found breaking the rules.
The prime minister stressed the new measures did not signal a return to the total lockdown that was implemented in March, and there are, as of now, no stay at home orders. Schools and universities are also remaining open.
But he also warned that if the new measures do not lower the infection rate -- the number of people infected by a single person with the virus -- to less than one, then the government reserves the right to implement “significantly greater restrictions.”
The government Monday reported more than 4,300 new infections, the highest daily number since May. According to the Johns Hopkins University, which tracks cases around the world, Britain currently has more than 401,000 confirmed cases and nearly 42,000 deaths.