The Prime Minister is imposing tough new restrictions, including a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants from Thursday, after his top advisers warned of a winter death crisis without action. In a televised address to the nation at 8pm, he will appeal to the public to redouble their efforts to drive down the disease by following the rules. A Downing Street source said: “People made a huge effort to beat the virus but now we can see it starting to get traction again.
“We must all redouble our efforts to follow the rules. Only a united front can drive down the virus again, keep people safe and our society moving forward.”
As well as the pub curfew in England, food and drink venues will be restricted to table service only.
The source warned that more severe action will be needed unless people stick to the measures the government puts in place in response to the surge in cases.
A further 4,368 lab-confirmed cases were recorded in the UK in 24 hours and 11 more people died within 28 days of testing positive.
Mr Johnson spent today locked in talks with the UK’s first ministers, members of his Cabinet and senior Tories as he finalised the next steps.
Boris Johnson will unveil a curfew across the country from Thursday
Chris Whitty told Britain changes need to be made to stop the spread
Downing Street said the PM and the leaders of the devolved administrations had agreed to act with a “united approach, as much as possible” in tackling coronavirus.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster later announced a ban on different households mixing indoors.
Mr Johnson will speak to Mrs Foster, Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh leader Mark Drakeford again tomorrow when he holds an emergency cobra meeting before making a statement in the Commons.
He will then give a televised address to the nation to update the public on further ways the country can confront the virus.
A No 10 spokesman said: “No one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses. We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”
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Only a united front can drive down the virus again, keep people safe and our society moving forward
Medical chiefs from across the UK put the covid alert level up from three to four, which means transmission is high and rising rapidly.
Mr Johnson’s top Covid advisers warned today thousands of people will die with coronavirus over winter if action is not taken now.
The UK is heading towards a 50,000 daily infection rate with 200 deaths a day if the virus is left to spread unchecked.
His scientific and medical chiefs gave a televised address setting out the bleak picture to the nation.
Professor Chris Whitty said colder weather would increase the spread of the disease and suggested restrictions on socialising are needed to “break unnecessary links” between households.
“So we should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively, it’s not indefinite,” he said.
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The chief medical officer said science would eventually “ride to our rescue” but “in this period of the next six months, I think we have to realise that we have to take this collectively, very seriously”.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the vast majority of the population remains susceptible to catching coronavirus.
The chief scientific adviser said if current infection rates continue, the UK could see around 50,000 cases a day by the middle of October.
By mid-November, the death rate could reach more than 200 a day.
Sir Patrick insisted the figures are “not a prediction” but showed the direction the disease is heading.
In mid-September, around 3,000 new cases were recorded every day in the UK, he said.
“If – and that’s quite a big if – but if that continues unabated and this grows, doubling every seven days, then what you see, of course, let’s say there were 5,000 today, it would be 10,000 next week, 20,000 the week after, 40,000 the week after, and you can see that by mid-October, if that continued, you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October, per day.
Pubs will shut at 10pm, alongside restaurants and bars
How to protect yourself from coronavirus
“50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November, say, to 200-plus deaths per day.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”
Sir Patrick dismissed claims the hike in cases is down to the increase in testing, explaining the proportion of positive results is rising.
The government believes socialising is a major factor in the spread of the disease while transmission at work or school is more limited.
“This is a balance of risk between if we don’t do enough the virus will take off – and at the moment that is the path we’re clearly on – and if we do not change course we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem,” he added.
Mr Johnson was laying the groundwork with ministers and his MPs yesterday amid fractures over the direction the government is taking.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock played down reports he has clashed with Chancellor Rishi Sunak as “completely overblown”.
Much of Wales has already brought in coronavirus restrictions
Mr Sunak has been raising concerns about the impact another lockdown would have on the economic recovery.
On Sunday evening the Prime Minister and the Chancellor held a special summit to hear scientific views from across the spectrum.
Senior Tory Michael Fabricant said the government must not impose a full lockdown.
“We clearly cannot afford a full lockdown like we had in March but there will have to be some measure that is taken,” he said.
Scientists are also at odds about how the spread of the disease and how to respond to it.
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said the projection of 50,000 new cases a day was “implausible”.
He said only India, the USA and Brazil had ever reported such high figures.
“Many observers may consider this an implausible scenario,” he said.
Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at University of Southampton, said: “We are very unlikely to see cases at that level because interventions will be rolled out that restrict the spread of the virus, such as regional lockdowns.”