Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce new national restrictions to tackle the spread of coronavirus, as cases continue to rise in the UK and across Europe.
Downing Street has confirmed that he will say all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues must close at 10pm, from Thursday September 24.
And they will also be restricted by law to providing table service only.
Unlike recent local restrictions, these new measures will apply across the whole of England. The Prime Minister will make an announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday (September 22), when MPs will have the chance to ask questions.
Mr Johnson will then make a televised address to the nation, at 8pm. The Prime Minister will talk about the role everyone can continue to play in tackling the spread of the virus, including by following the social distancing guidance, wearing face coverings and washing hands regularly. He will also talk about further ways his government will fight coronavirus, but no details about this portion of his speech have been released so far.
The Cabinet will meet on Tuesday morning, before the statement to Parliament. Mr Johnson will also chair the Government’s emergency COBR committee, with Cabinet Ministers and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, to discuss the surge in cases.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “No-one under-estimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses. We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”
New national restrictions will come on top of all the measures previously announced. That includes the national “rule of six”, barring gatherings of more than six people, and the local restrictions in Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, which bar people from different households from being together at all, in private homes or gardens.
It follows a weekend of activity. On Saturday, the Cabinet was briefed by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and the Government’s Chief Economist, Clare Lombardelli. On Sunday evening, the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak held a special summit to hear scientific views from across the spectrum.
On Monday the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser gave a public briefing on the latest coronavirus data. They said the number of cases is currently doubling around every seven days, and if we continue on this trajectory, this could lead to 50,000 cases a day by the middle of October – leading to more than 200 deaths every day.
The COVID-19 alert level has moved from Level 3 to Level 4 after the data showed the number of cases was rising rapidly.
Speaking on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance said that in mid-September, around 3,000 new cases were recorded every day in the UK and if the growth continued unabated that would result in 50,000 cases by the middle of October.
He warned the “50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November, say, to 200-plus deaths per day”.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”
Prof Chris Whitty suggested that science would eventually “ride to our rescue” but “in this period of the next six months, I think we have to realise that we have to take this, collectively, very seriously”.
The Government said that as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 4,368 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.