British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people on Tuesday to work from home where possible and ordered bars and restaurants to close early to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of Covid-19 with restrictions lasting probably six months.
After government scientists cautioned that deaths may soar without urgent action, Johnson stopped short of another full lockdown as he did in March, but said further action could be taken if the disease was not suppressed.
“We reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions,” Johnson told Parliament, following emergency meetings with ministers and leaders of the UK’s devolved governments.
“We will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.”
He said Britain had reached a similarly perilous point as countries like Spain and France.
“We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.” Just weeks after urging people to start returning to workplaces, Johnson advised office workers to stay at home if they could. He ordered all pubs, bars, restaurants, and other hospitality sites to close at 10 pm from Thursday, with only table service allowed. “I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet,” he said.