Please see below a summarised version of the key points from the Government announcement regarding COVID-19 earlier this week:
– On the advice of the four Chief Medical Officers, the UK’s Covid alert level has been raised from 3 to 4, the second most serious stage, meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially.
– Infection rates have gone up: A month ago, on average, around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day. The latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929. As in Spain, France, and many other countries – we have reached a turning point and the prospect of a second wave is real.
– This week, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor warned that there could be tens of thousands of new infections next month.
– We are still a long way from reaching herd immunity; fewer than 8% of the population have the antibodies to keep the virus off.
– The number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29, but evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups.
– In the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled. Based on the current statistics, this could mean hundreds of daily deaths in November unless we act now.
– Covid is likely to spread faster as autumn becomes winter.
– If we can curb the number of daily infections, and reduce the Reproduction rate to 1, then we can save lives and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later.
– The Government will introduce new restrictions in England, but this does not mean a return to the full lockdown of March.
– The Government are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home. Schools, colleges and universities will stay open. Businesses will stay open.
– Office workers who can work from home should do so.
– In key public services, people should continue to attend their workplaces.
– From Thursday (24th September), all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways. All hospitality venues must close at 10pm. (Last orders must be called before this time.) This also includes takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.
– All staff in retail, taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality must now wear face coverings (except when seated at a table to eat or drink).
– In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, these Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Businesses will be fined and could close if they breach these rules.
– The rule of six will now be tightened. 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. The rule of six will now also apply to all adult indoor team sports.
– The spread of the virus is now affecting the Government’s ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events to they will not be able to do this from 1 October. The Government are working urgently on a solution to support them.
– The fine for breaking Covid rules is up to £10,000. The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.
– The police and local authorities will be provided with extra funding, a greater police presence on the streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.
– If these actions fail to bring the R below 1, then the Government may have to deploy significantly greater restrictions.