UK prime minister Boris Johnson has told the people of England that they must work from home where possible as the country reaches a “perilous turning point” in its battle against Covid-19.
In a statement in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon local time, Johnson outlined new restrictions after the number of daily coronavirus cases has quadrupled to 3,929 in a month across the UK.
The prime minister stopped short of introducing a new nation-wide lockdown in England, but insisted that people should work from home where they can. It means a return to remote working for many major industry players, who were starting to allow some staff back into the office.
Johnson added, however, that if people need to go their place of work to carry out their duties, then they should do so. He used construction workers as an example, but the edict could be applied to those who work in TV and film production.
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“In key public services and in all professions where home working is not possible, such as construction or retail, people should continue to attend their workplaces,” Johnson said.
Shoots have spent recent weeks getting back on their feet following the catastrophic shutdown of production in March. It halted filming worth more than £1BN ($1.3BN) and put thousands of freelancers out of work. Another shutdown would be devastating for the industry.
Johnson said the new measures, which include enforcing table service rules and a 10PM curfew on pubs and restaurants, could be in place for six months if there is not significant improvement in the rate of new infections. He added that companies could be fined or closed if they breach “Covid secure” guidelines.
Other measures outlined by the prime minister include the “requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.” From Monday, only 15 people will be able to attend a wedding.
In a warning to the nation, Johnson added that “we reserve right to deploy greater firepower” if new restrictions are not effective. This could be up to and including another nation-wide lockdown, which some are calling for. Britain’s devolved nations, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have their own plans to tackle the second wave of coronavirus.