Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the public to “summon the discipline and the resolve” to follow the new coronavirus rules announced on Tuesday.
In a television broadcast to the country he warned the government may go further if people do not stick to them. New measures have been brought in across the UK, with Mr Johnson warning rules could last for up to six months. In England, rules on face coverings were expanded and the number of people allowed at weddings has been halved.
Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will have to close by 22:00 BST, while the fines for breaking the rules will also increase to £200 on the first offence. Hospitality venues will also have to close early in Scotland and Wales – but Scotland has gone further, banning people from visiting other people’s homes. It comes as the number of UK cases rose by 4,926 on Tuesday, government figures showed, with deaths increasing by 37.
‘Can’t just lock up elderly’
Speaking on Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson defended the new measures, saying they were “robust but proportionate”.
“And to those who say we don’t need this stuff, and we should leave people to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own,” he said.
“The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.
“And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic, because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.” Mr Johnson said he was “deeply, spiritually reluctant” to infringe on anyone’s freedom, but added: “unless we take action the risk is that we will have to go for tougher measures later”.
“If people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further,” he added.
Mr Johnson said the “single greatest weapon” that the UK brings to the fight against the virus is the “common sense of the people themselves”.
He added: “If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together. There are unquestionably difficult months to come.
“And the fight against Covid is by no means over. I have no doubt, however, that there are great days ahead.
“But now is the time for us all to summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through.”