LONDON (Reuters) – All pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues across the whole of England must start closing at 10 p.m. from Thursday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson tackles a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Johnson, who will address both parliament and the nation on Tuesday, will also say the hospitality sector will be restricted by law to table service only, according to excerpts of his remarks provided by his Downing Street office on Monday.
“No one underestimates 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,” he will say.
Shares in Britain’s listed pubs and restaurant groups fell sharply on Monday in anticipation of the move. While there is no consistent policy for the country, the move will advance the closing time by at least an hour for most areas.
Britain will face an exponentially growing death rate from COVID-19 within weeks unless urgent action is taken to halt a rapidly spreading second wave of the outbreak, the country’s senior medics warned on Monday.
The COVID-19 alert level has also moved from Level 3 to Level 4 after the data showed the number of cases was rising rapidly. Level 4 indicates that the virus is in general circulation and transmission is high or rising exponentially.
The new rules represent another backwards step in Britain’s recovery from a pandemic that has inflicted more deaths and more economic damage on the country than on European peers and has prompted widespread criticism of Johnson’s leadership.
On Monday, Northern Ireland said it would extend existing restrictions in some localities on households mixing indoors across the whole of the province from Tuesday, while Wales slapped curbs on four more areas. Scotland said additional restrictions were almost certain to be imposed.
Johnson will address the nation at 1900 GMT on further ways he will confront the virus.
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)