Wednesday 9 September 2020 4:55 pm

Boris Johnson unveils new England coronavirus restrictions

Boris Johnson has unveiled a string of new coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings in England as a response to rising rates of infection across the country.

Gatherings of more than six people in public or in private will be banned from Monday, with several exemptions such as schools.

Venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than six people, but no individual group can be larger than that number.

The Prime Minister said the existing restrictions had become “complicated and confusing”, and that everyone should limit social contact.

“This single measure replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors,” Johnson said.

“Now you only need to remember the rule of six.”

Johnson said “Covid Secure marshalls” would be created in cities and towns across the country to make sure people are obeying the new rules.

Hospitality venues will also be legally required to take test and trace details of customers, with £1,000 fines for non-compliance.

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“Let me be clear – these measures are not a second national lockdown – the whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown,” Johnson said.

A total of 2,948 Covid-19 cases were recorded throughout the entire UK on Monday.

On Sunday, 2,988 new cases were recorded, which was the highest number of infections since May.

The rise in coronavirus cases has been led by sharp increases in positive tests among 20-29 year-olds who have an infection rate of double the UK population as a whole.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that the rise in cases in the UK had a similar trajectory to other European countries who have experienced second waves, like Spain and France.

He said that Belgium imposed new restrictions at the same point the UK is currently at, which meant the country avoided a second coronavirus wave.

“It is a clear indication that if you act rapidly and decisively when these change are happening, there is a reasonable chance or a good chance of bringing the rates back under control,” he said.

The Prime Minister also announced plans for a mass coronavirus testing programme that would see millions of tests administered per day.

Johnson called the plan a “moon shot”, which would see life return largely to normal.

The Prime Minister said his vision is for everyone to have a Covid test that shows if someone is infectious with the disease every morning.

The tests would have a rapid turnaround, showing results within 60 minutes.

“That level of testing would allow people to lead more normal lives, without the need for social distancing,” he said.

“Theatres and sports venues could test all audience members on the day and let in those with a negative result, all those who are not infectious.

“Workplaces could be opened up to all those who test negative that morning and allow them to behave in a way that was normal before Covid.”

The programme will soon be trialled in Salford.