BORIS Johnson is to announce a 10pm closing time for pubs tomorrow, HOAR can reveal.
As part of a package of measures to be unveiled to tackle soaring Covid cases, the Prime Minister is to slap a curfew on the hospitality industry as well as patrol venues to make sure they are obeying the “rule of six”.
And pubs, bars and restaurants could be shut completely in virus hotspots.
The measures, which were outlined to devolved leaders today, will be kept under review.
And this evening Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster said that people would be banned from mixing with other households inside.
The measures come amid a dire warnings on Monday from the Government’s chief medical officers that Covid-19 is resurgent.
Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance said the nation could face 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day in just three weeks and deaths could soar if the bug continues to spread at its current rate, the nation’s top medics warned this morning.
The PM will chair an emergency meeting of COBRA – the first in months – and will speak to his counterparts in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland today to discuss new measures.
HOAR revealed this morning how the PM is planning a fresh attack on pubs that let their residents flout the ‘rule of six’.
The clampdown will see pubs and restaurants shut down by patrols – and groups could be broken up and fined.
A senior Whitehall source told HOAR: “Every option comes with a very big stick.”
A government source said: “Police and councils will be told to act immediately when they see the rules being broken.
“Lots of pubs and restaurants are following the law, but others are not.
“Those that flout it will be shut down.”
It came as cases of the virus rise in the UK and across Europe, Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick explained today.
They told the nation how the bug is spreading as the nation moves towards a challenging winter.
Using charts and graphs to set out the latest figures, they showed how the virus isn’t just spreading among younger people, but now older generations too – and more people are in hospital as a result.
Sir Patrick warned: “In every age group we have seen an increase… It is now estimated that roughly 70,000 people in the UK have Covid infection and that about 6,000 people per day are getting the infection.
“If that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days then what you see… is by mid October we would end up with something like 50,000 cases per day.”
Two hundred people a day could be dying by the middle of November if the trend continues, he said.
Professor Whitty added that everyone has a part to play in stopping the disease, saying: “This is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problems.
“We must see this as a six month problem – we have to take this collectively very seriously.”
And he said there was no evidence the virus is any milder than it was before.
The top doc added: “A lot of people have said maybe this is a milder virus than it was in April, I’m afraid although it would be great if that were true, this is not the case.”
Only around eight per cent of the population have been infected so far with the bug.
The nation’s top scientists revealed there could be huge ramifications if they didn’t curb the virus, including:
- More deaths from Covid: with numbers spiralling to 200 a day in November
- NHS overwhelmed: with Nightingales needed to be used and doctors unable to cope
- Huge spending: to try and curb the virus, help the NHS to stay on its feet and other cash measures
- Excess deaths from other illnesses: due to huge waiting times from coronavirus and people not coming forward for help
The PM is expected to make an announcement to the nation in the coming days on what new measures will be put in place.
The Cabinet are due to discuss the changes with him today.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM has been engaged with the Cabinet throughout this process. The Cabinet received a detailed briefing from the Government’s chief medical, scientific and economic advisers over the course of the weekend.
“The PM will work with his colleagues to ensure that we respond in the most effective way to try to control the spread of the virus and to save lives.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this lunchtime that “a package of additional measures” is on the cards.
But he faces a backlash as ministers fear a second lockdown will kill the economy.
But senior Tory MPs urged Boris Johnson to hold firm and not risk “economic disaster” by ordering another national lockdown.
STOP SEEING YOUR FRIENDS
It seems likely after the dire warning people will be ordered to stay away from their family and friends – rules which are already in place in some parts of the country.
Patrick Vallance said today: “The way that we reduce the spread is by limiting our number of contacts, by reducing contact in environments where spread is more likely – those are crowded environments, indoor environments, poor ventilation – and making sure that we reduce the probability of coming into contact with anyone who is infectious.”
Mr Shapps said today ahead of the speech: “We need to push down on the R-rate by restricting social contact.”
The nation has been told they should limit the number of households that people are coming into contact with to minimise the risk of infection.
People in the North and Midlands are already banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens, or hanging out with people they don’t live with in pubs and restaurants.
This also means people who don’t live together can’t meet their lovers either.
Mr Hancock said “no final decisions” have been made but warned Brits they could face even tighter restrictions as the UK tries desperately to get a second wave of the virus under control.
When asked if pubs could be closed this weekend, Mr Hancock told ITV’s This Morning: “We will be absolutely clear about the changes we need to make in the very, very near future.”
He said the answer to pubs closing is “not a not, and it’s not a yes”.
He added: “We have been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what we need to do in response to the surge that we have seen in the last few weeks.”
MORE LOCAL LOCKDOWNS
Wales also revealed today four new areas will face local lockdowns from tomorrow night, it was confirmed today.
Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport will have extra rules from 6pm tomorrow night.
People can’t leave the area without a good reason – such as school or work.
They can’t meet people they don’t live with indoors, but they can meet outside.
Extended households or support bubbles are off, too.
All pubs and other licensed premises will have to shut by 11pm.
Restrictions in the North West will also come in tomorrow too – covering Lancashire, Northumberland, County Dunham and Tyne and Wear.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to offer table service only, and they will have to shut by 10pm and can’t open again until 5pm.
And people will not be allowed to socialise with ANY friends and family outside of their own households either – inside or outside.
That includes public places like pubs and parks, but also inside private homes and gardens too.
People must not use public transport except for essential purposes – like travelling to school or work.
The public will still be allowed to take holidays – but it cannot be with anyone they don’t live with (or have a support bubble with), putting an end to stag and hen parties.
People living in the new lockdown areas must not go to watch any sport games either.