UK tightens rules to fight worrying coronavirus rise

Britain on Tuesday tightened restrictions to stem a surge of coronavirus cases, ordering pubs to close early and advising people to go back to working from home to prevent a second national lockdown.

Pubs, bars and restaurants were ordered to shut at 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) across England and Scotland, and new limits were announced on public gatherings such as weddings.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also called a halt to the planned phased return of fans to live sporting events in England from October 1, despite huge losses and fears some clubs could go under.

“To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter,” the government said, despite fears for the wider economy as many city centres turn in to ghost towns.

Johnson has warned the country is tracking European neighbours such as France and Spain with a second wave of infections, making urgent action necessary to prevent tougher rules later.

“This is the moment we must act,” he told parliament, noting the new measures — which could last up to six months — would be bolstered by greater infringement penalties, a boosted police presence and military back-up.

“If all our actions fail to bring the R (reproduction rate) below one, then we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower with significantly greater restrictions,” he added.

Johnson hammered home the message in a televised evening address to the nation, calling for a collective effort to “get through this winter together”.

“Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour,” he said. (AFP | Phil HAZLEWOOD)

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