Earlier this week, it was announced that the UK’s Covid-alert level had been raised from 3 to 4, indicating that transmission of the coronavirus across the nation is currently “high or rising exponentially”.
On Tuesday 22 September, Boris Johnson outlined a series of new measures that are being implemented across England as a means of curbing further spread of the virus, warning that the UK is at a “perilous point” in the fight against Covid-19.
In addition to doubling the fine for a first time offence if members of the public are found breaking the “rule of six” when socialising with friends and family, the prime minister announced that pubs and restaurants will be required to close their doors at 10pm.
Here are all the new rules coming into effect on Thursday 24 September.
From Thursday 24 September, people will be required to wear face coverings when they are being served at hospitality venues.
This means that while customers can take their face coverings off when they are sat down at a table to eat or drink, if they stand up and walk to the bathroom or are being shown to their table on arrival, they must wear a face covering.
People working at hospitality and retail services must also wear face coverings, a measure that was previously up to individual discretion. The government website states: “Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law.”
Any business that sells food or drink, including cafes, pubs, restaurants, social clubs and casinos, must close their doors between the hours of 10pm and 5am every day, the government has said.
While this rule also applies to takeaway services, food and drink deliveries, or the use of drive-thru services, can continue after 10pm, meaning that some restaurants like McDonalds have already told customers they will remain open.
When dining out from Thursday 24 September, members of the public can only be served food and drink when sitting at tables.
This means that while they could previously order food or drinks at a bar, they will no longer be allowed and must wait to be served.
‘Check-in’ at businesses
From Thursday 10 September, businesses in England were obliged by law to record the contact details for customers, visitors and staff members, in order to keep track of anyone who may have tested positive for the virus and come into contact with others.
Now, businesses have been told they must put up NHS QR code posters on their premises.
This will allow customers to “‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally”, the government said.
The NHS Covid-19 app is being launched today, having originally been due to launch four months ago.
On Tuesday 22 September, the prime minister announced that further restrictions were being placed on the number of people permitted to socialise with one another at any one time.
While the “rule of six” has been in place since Monday 14 September, failure to comply with the rule could now result in a £200 fine for a first offence, double the previous amount.
From Monday 28 September, wedding ceremonies and receptions will only be permitted to allow 15 attendees, half of what was formerly allowed.
And from Thursday 24 September, support groups –which includes those providing support for people recovering from addiction, helping individuals who have suffered from long illnesses or supporting people who are grieving a loss – will only be allowed to include 15 people, the government stated.
Furthermore, while indoor adult team sports must now also follow the rule of six, there is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people, which comes into effect today.
Childcare in restricted areas
In areas of the country that where restrictions on interhousehold mixing have been established, a new exemption on childcare has been announced.
From Thursday 24 September, friends and family “in those areas of local intervention where household mixing is not allowed” will be allowed to informally help take care of other people’s children in their homes, for children under the age of 14, the government outlined.