Johnson announces new coronavirus rules

The prime minister addressed the nation last night to explain a new set of rules to help curb the recent rise in coronavirus cases that he outlined to parliament earlier in the day. While he stopped short of implementing another lockdown, Boris Johnson introduced a number of measures that will have a direct effect on hospitality businesses.

From tomorrow, customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff will also be required to wear them, with what was previously guidance now becoming law. People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, however, will continue to be excused.

Businesses selling food or drink, including cafés, restaurants, bars and pubs, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways, but delivery services can continue after 10pm. Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site. In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.

To further promote safety, businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can check-in at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally. From 28th September, a wider range of leisure and entertainment venues will be subject to the Covid-19 secure requirements in law, with fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.

Also, office workers who can work effectively from home should now do so ‘over the winter’. Johnson said that these new measures could be in place for six months, with more to follow if the spread of Covid-19 continues to rise.

Striking a sombre tone, he said: “I set out a package of tougher measures in England – early closing for pubs, bars; table service only; closing businesses that are not Covid-secure; expanding the use of face coverings, and new fines for those that fail to comply; and once again asking office workers to work from home if they can while enforcing the rule of six indoors and outdoors – a tougher package of national measures combined with the potential for tougher local restrictions for areas already in lockdown.

“I know that this approach – robust but proportionate – already carries the support of all the main parties in parliament. And after discussion with colleagues in the devolved administrations, I believe this broad approach is shared across the whole UK.

“The fight against Covid is by no means over. I have no doubt, however, that there are great days ahead.”