All pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail businesses will close until Dec. 2, after which some areas may go into lower-tier restrictions, depending on the severity of local cases. Leisure and entertainment venues will also close, Johnson said.
Film and TV production, however, will be able to go on under strict COVID-safe guidelines, Variety has been told by producers’ trade body Pact. Further, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden clarified following the briefing that film and TV production can indeed continue. “The changes mean people should WFH [work from home] where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”
Schools, universities, courts, construction and parliament will also remain open.
The furlough scheme that was due to end Oct. 31 has now been extended until December (a date has not yet been specified).
“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” Johnson said, addressing a press briefing on Saturday evening. “Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief, by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together.
“As we come together now to fight the second wave, I want to say something about the way ahead, because people will reasonably ask, ‘When will this end?’ And as I’ve said before, I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring,” Johnson added.
The Prime Minister will present the new measures to the House of Commons on Monday, and they will be put to a vote on Wednesday.
The U.K. has recorded 21,915 new cases and 326 deaths in the last 24 hours. Of these, 18,864 are in England, 1,101 in Scotland, 1,301 in Wales and 649 in Northern Ireland. There are now more than 1 million cases recorded in total, and deaths have crossed 46,000.
Wales, Northern Ireland, parts of Scotland and most of England’s midlands were already in partial lockdown. Wales will come out of lockdown on Nov. 9 and Northern Ireland on Nov. 13 as scheduled, their local governments have confirmed.
The ‘R’ or the reproduction rate of the virus, that the government has been seeking to keep below 1, is well above that now, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance revealed during the press briefing.
A study by Imperial College London states that nearly 100,000 people are being infected with COVID-19 every day in England.
On Sept. 21, the government-appointed Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had recommended a national “circuit break lockdown” to stop the spread of coronavirus. The government, however, chose not to follow the recommendation at the time, choosing instead to impose local restrictions.
Responding a question about this decision, Johnson said, “This is a constant struggle, and a balance that any government has to make between lives and livelihoods. And obviously, lives must come first, but we have to be mindful the whole time of the scarring, the long-term economic impact of the measures we’re obliged to introduce. So I do think it was right and rational to go for the regional approach.”
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.
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