New lockdown rules at a glance
- Office workers who can work ‘normally’ from home should do so.
- English pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm from Thursday.
- The hospitality sector will be restricted to table service only.
- Face coverings must be worn in taxis and retail staff while at work.
- Customers in indoor hospitality must wear face coverings, except while seated at a table to eat/drink.
- Rule of Six exemptions reduced, banning indoor team sport.
- The planned return of spectators to sports venues will now not go ahead from October 1.
- Wedding ceremonies and receptions capped at 15 people from Monday
The Government’s new Covid shutdown sparked confusion today as Dominic Raab suggested fast food outlets like Pret and McDonald’s could not serve queuing customers and would have to become table service only to stay open.
The Foreign Secretary’s comments prompted fresh chaos over the updated rules and led to anger from hard-pressed business owners who are already struggling to stay open.
Malek Den, from the Regis Snack Bar in London’s Leadenhall Market, blasted the government’s approach as ‘confusing’.
He told MailOnline: ‘They’re giving out opposites all the time. We’re trying to build the business again but we’re being told all these confusing things.
‘I don’t understand. I thought the rules was just about six people being inside and you can still serve people in a queue for takeaway.’
Mr Raab made his comments this morning after Boris Johnson announced last night that pubs, bars and restaurants must operate ‘table-service only’ policies – excluding takeaways – to reduce the chance of people coming into close contact with orders in queues.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on whether customers could walk in to establishments such as McDonalds or Pret, make an order then sit down at a table, Mr Raab said: ‘My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables.’
Later, the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson tweeted that Mr Raab had misunderstood the government’s advice and restaurants would still be allowed to order in a queue.
He tweeted: ‘So, I’m told the requirement for table service applies to licensed premises only. McDonalds, Pret and many fast food outlets with eat-in areas will not be required to provide table service. However, those who choose to eat in will need to do so seated at a table.’
The guidance also raises questions for businesses including gyms and hairdressers, which are popular and often-used services by millions of Britons but which are not mentioned specifically in any of the new guidance.
Many will wonder if they will have to adhere to a new tightening of the Rule of Six law, which would have a dramatic impact on their operations and could potentially force some to close.
Tory MPs said the Government’s handling of the crisis has been a ‘total shambles’ and that repeated shifts in official guidance had left many people across the country confused as to what the rules actually are.
Pubs and other leisure and hospitality businesses like restaurants will face a 10pm curfew from tomorrow.
People working in retail, those travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality will also have to wear face coverings – except while seated at a table to eat or drink.
And in a dramatic reversal of the Government’s recent drive to get people back to workplaces, all office workers will be advised to work from home where they can as soon as possible.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that fast food chains like McDonalds and coffee shops like Pret a Manger would have to rip up their systems and become table service only to stay open
Ministers last night released official documents online outlining how Boris Johnson’s (pictured today) new lockdown measures would work. But there was confusion over their implementation this morning
PUBS AND RESTAURANTS
From this Thursday, businesses selling food or drink (including, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, and adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls will be required to closed between 10pm and 5am. Some exemptions apply, including cinemas, theatres and concert halls which have started shows before 10pm, however they will not be permitted to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm.
Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service or drive-thru. Self-collected takeaways are banned after 10pm.
Customers will not be allowed to order drinks at the bar. All pubs and bars must become table service only.
And Mr Raab confirmed this morning this is also true of fast food establishments like McDonalds.
‘In all of the restaurants and hospitality you can go in and order from the tables, but what you can’t do without a mask is just sit around and mill around,’ Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Asked if customers could queue to order food and then sit down, Mr Raab said: ‘My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables.’
While McDonald’s remote ordering allows customers to order food to be delivered to tables, it is not set up for orders to be taken at tables as well.
As well as large fast food chains the move will affect cafes which are set up for ordering from counters before customers sit down – from Pret to small local businesses.
The curfew also applies to takeaway services, many of which sustained businesses through the worst of the original lockdown.
But food (and drink) deliveries are allowed to continue after 10pm because it is easier to limit human contact.
It is mandatory for certain businesses, including the hospitality and tourism and leisure sectors, close contact services, local authority run services and places of worship, to have a system to collect NHS Track and Trace data, and to ask customers to provide these details. Businesses will be required to retain these details for 21 days, and will need to ensure that the Rule of Six is not flouted.
Boris Johnson called on the British public to ‘get through this winter together’ and said the people need to ‘summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through’
WALES, SCOTLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND
The same rules for England are expected to apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The devolved administrations will announce their plans this week.
IS THE 10PM CURFEW ECONOMICALLY DAMAGING?
The Prime Minister told the Commons ‘the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed’.
In reply to Meg Hillier, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee he said: ‘These are not easy decisions, nobody wants to be curtailing the right of restaurants and other businesses to go about their lawful business.
‘What we have seen from the evidence is that alas the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed.
‘This is one way that we see of driving down the R without doing excessive economic damage and that’s the balance we have to strike.’
Ministers have been warned that a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many businesses still treading water after the first wave of Covid-19.
Exasperated hospitality bosses are fuming that they are bearing the brunt of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus crackdown when Government figures show a comparably low spread of the disease in food and drink outlets.
Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs – 45 per cent were in care homes, 21 per cent in schools and 18 per cent in places of work.
People sit in a restaurant in Covent Garden in London today as the PM clobbered civil liberties
Pubs like the French House in Soho, central London, will have to close at 10pm. That is not last orders at 10pm, that is close at 10pm.
Officer workers have been told to work from home ‘if possible’ although those in ‘key public services and in all professions’ where this is not possible, such as construction and retail, should continue to go in
RULE OF SIX AND MASKS
Last night’s announcement saw a dramatic tightening of the Rule of Six and laws governing facemasks
In England, a maximum of six people from multiple households can meet up both indoors and outdoors — in private homes, pubs, restaurants and parks.
All ages are included in the headcount. There are some exceptions — for example, when a single household has more than six occupants.
The Rule of Six has been extended to take in ‘leisure, entertainment, tourism and close contact’ sectors’.
So it means that currently hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons can still operate, but they will need to cut still further the number of people they can serve at any one time.
Anyone who breaks the rules on social gatherings in England will be fined £200 with the penalty doubling on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.
Businesses that break the Rule of Six will be fined £10,000 or closed down.
Hairdressers will also be legally required to wear face coverings while crimping from tomorrow, a step up on the voluntary guidance issued back in May.
But there are question marks over whether gyms will have to adhere to mask or the Rule of Six.
The guidance says: ‘Organised indoor sport or exercise classes can take place in larger numbers, provided groups of more than six do not mix.’
This is likely to prove tricky for classes run at locations where there is not the space for this to be followed, like village halls.
But gyms are not mentioned specifically in any of the documents, in terms of Rule of Six or masks – which would be very unwelcome for people working out.
Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
From tomorrow it will be law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, and from Thursday, face coverings must also be worn in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings will also be legally required to wear face coverings.
If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).
It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.
As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.
The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.
WORKING FROM HOME
Already a controversial subject, the guidance on the return to working from home could be seen as having massive weaknesses.
It says: ‘Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so … anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.’
But this raises the question of who makes the final decision. Can a worker refuse to come into the office? Who decides what is a ‘normal duty’? Can the employer force them to come into work against their wishes?
It raises the possibility of a raft of possible legal claims by employees who feel they are being forced back to work and potential complaints from managers unable to get their offices up and running again.
The new message brings England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have all advised people to work from home wherever possible throughout the pandemic.
If businesses are not Covid-secure, flout the mask regulations or break the Rule of Six, they will be fined £10,000 or closed down.
If people prevent others from self-isolating – such as bosses threatening redundancy – they can also be fined.
Commuters walk across the London Bridge during the morning rush hour in September
A man enjoys a a drink at The Kings Ford pub in Chingford, East London, as the PM made his announcement in the Commons this afternoon
Many Tory MPs are increasingly exasperated at the Government’s handling of the crisis.
One Conservative figure told the FT: ‘We told people to eat out, now we’re telling them to eat in. We told people to go back to the office, now we’re telling them to work from home.
‘It’s a total shambles and I can’t see how people are going to understand it.’
Responding to the PM’s grim address, Telford MP Lucy Allan questioned on Twitter whether the UK’s ‘collective health’ was really at risk: ‘Measures to tackle #covid must be proportionate to the risk. The virus is a serious threat to certain vulnerable groups.
‘We must protect these groups with targeted measures. Shutting down society causes massive damage to health, lives, and livelihoods of the whole population.’
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage accused Mr Johnson of adopting an ‘authoritarian’ response to the coronavirus crisis.
Tens of thousands of Britons appeared to defy the PM’s call to return to working from home this morning as London Underground and train services in the capital remained busy.
Some of the county’s biggest firms declared ‘nothing has changed’ despite Mr Johnson now urging people to stay at home to work where they are able to.
An industry source told MailOnline: ‘Most businesses have covid-secure settings and need people in offices to be able to help their customers.
‘Nothing has changed after the Prime Minister’s speech.’
Schools will remain unaffected by the new restrictions. Along with protecting the economy, one of the main thrusts of today’s announcements is the Government’s desire to prioritise keeping schools open.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.
‘We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people. We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.’
WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS
From next Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions in England have to be capped at 15 people — down from 30 people.
But funeral services are exempt from the new restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30.
Celebrations held this weekend will narrowly avoid the new restrictions.
Setting out the measures in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: ‘Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the Rule of Six.
‘I’m afraid that from Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now.’
From next Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions in England have to be capped at 15 people — down from 30 people. But funeral services are exempt from the new restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30
Current guidance states that up to 30 attendees are permitted in Wales, while in Scotland, ceremonies and receptions are limited to 20 people, and numbers are dependent on the venue in Northern Ireland.
One bride, due to get married on December 12 after being engaged for five years, who had originally planned a wedding with 100 people in Norfolk, said she felt ‘gutted’ following the announcement.
‘We are then seeing people say online that it doesn’t matter, it’s not important and at least we don’t have Covid and then we feel like our feelings are not valid,’ 40-year-old Laura Brown told the PA news agency.
‘It’s a day but it’s so much more than a day, because of all the emotions that go into it.’
Meanwhile, self-employed wedding celebrant Chris Gray, from Glasgow, called the restrictions around weddings ‘nonsensical’, such as couples being required to wear coverings during the ceremony.
The 29-year-old added: ‘That’s led so many people having to cancel or rearrange weddings and in the short-term it’s been an absolute hammer blow for cash flow for me.’
OTHER PUBLIC SPACES
People can spend time outdoors, including for exercise, as often as they wish. At all times, they should follow the guidance on group sizes, meeting in groups of no more than six unless there is an exception set out in law.
They should aim to walk or cycle if you can, but where that is not possible they can use public transport or drive.
It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys and transmission of coronavirus can occur in this context.
So people should avoid travelling with someone from outside their household or their support bubble unless they can practise social distancing.
In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned.
Mr Johnson announced that the planned return of spectators to sports venues in England could be on hold for six months, raising the prospect of months more of games behind closed doors.
A number of pilot test events, in which capacities have been capped at 1,000, have taken place and it was hoped venues would be allowed to welcome more spectators from the start of October.
In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned
In England, a maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports. However, large sports events and conferences will not take place from October 1, as previously planned
But the PM set out a range of tough new restrictions for England designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.
‘We have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events,’ he told the House of Commons.
‘So we will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs which are the life and soul of our communities, and… the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.’
He said the measures being announced on Tuesday would remain in place for ‘perhaps six months’.
It is a devastating blow to sporting organisations, many of whom rely heavily on match-day revenue for survival, and there have already been calls from governing bodies for the government to provide emergency funding.
Professional sport, including the Premier League and Test cricket, has largely been played behind closed doors since it returned following the coronavirus shutdown earlier this year.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed all pilot events scheduled for September had now been cancelled. They will now take place with no fans.
In a statement this afternoon, the Premier League said fans would be ‘as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted’.
‘The Premier League notes the Government’s announcement today and while the health of the nation must remain everyone’s priority, we are disappointed that the safe return of supporters to matches has been postponed,’ it said.
‘The Premier League is certain that, through League-wide guidelines and a code of conduct developed with scientific experts and agreed by the Government’s Sports Ground Safety Authority, fans in stadiums will be as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted. This is already evident in other European leagues.’
How long will the new restrictions be in place for?
The new restrictions brought in today could last for six months – but Mr Johnson has insisted they are not a return to the national lockdown seen in March.
He said: ‘For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.
‘We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor those who urge a permanent lockdown. We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.’
Many families will be anxious for Christmas after hearing the new rules – but ministers have insisted they do not want to ruin the holiday season.
The five days of panic which paved the way for Boris Johnson to impose a curfew on pubs
Thursday: The latest official data presented to ministers showed that coronavirus cases were on the rise in all age groups while hospitalisations were also increasing across the board. The numbers are said to have prompted Michael Gove to call for decisive action to be taken.
By the end of the day a ‘consensus’ had reportedly emerged around a plan for a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors, with Mr Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said to be the leading advocates.
Advisers on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies also backed the plans on the grounds that it was not possible to predict the impact of a less severe curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.
Mr Johnson was reportedly initially in favour of the total shutdown.
Friday: The prospect of a total shutdown spooked ministers and officials in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who were afraid of the damage such a move would do to the economy.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to have asked to see the Prime Minister and the pair then met on Friday afternoon. Mr Sunak spelled out his fears in person and Mr Johnson was apparently sympathetic to the message from the Chancellor, asking officials to look at other options.
Saturday and Sunday: Mr Johnson held further talks with senior ministers as well as with Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty as the premier tried to hammer out an agreed way forward. Mr Johnson eventually decided to go ahead with a curfew plan instead of a total shutdown as the ‘hawks’ in the Cabinet appeared to win the battle with the ‘doves’.
Monday: The PM’s latest lockdown plans were formally decided upon by senior ministers ahead of a formal announcement today.