Pubs and restaurants to be put under 10pm curfew in Prime Minister's address to the nation

Pubs will be forced to close at 10pm from Thursday, Boris Johnson is set to announce, as part of a bid to drive down the rising cases of coronavirus across the country.

Monday, 21st September 2020, 10:30 pm

The Prime Minister will address the nation at 8pm on Tuesday evening to outline new measures, including pubs and restaurants closing early, and the hospitality sector being restricted by law to table service only.

Mr Johnson will chair meetings of Cabinet and the Cobra emergency committee – including the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – ahead of a live, televised address.

And he is expected to set out further ways the country can confront coronavirus in line with the scientific advice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis has called for the North to be represented at the Cobra meeting.

He said: “Large areas of the North are already in local lockdown but no northern leader has yet been invited to attend Cobra during this crisis.”

It comes after the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “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.”

It comes after Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, along with chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, painted a bleak picture on Monday, warning there could be up to 200 deaths a day from the virus by November if action was not taken.

Mr Johnson is also due to address MPs in the Commons on Tuesday.

Prof Whitty hinted on Monday that curbs to social lives are needed to prevent coronavirus spreading, saying there was a need to “break unnecessary links” between households.

Prof Whitty said that restricting socialising was “in many ways the most difficult” thing the public could do, but “we have to break unnecessary links between households because that is the way in which this virus is transmitted”.

He added: “This means reducing social contacts whether they are at work, and this is where we have enormous gratitude to all the businesses for example who have worked so hard to make their environments Covid-secure to reduce the risk, and also in social environments. We all know we cannot do this without some significant downsides.

“This is a balance of risk between if we don’t do enough the virus will take off – and at the moment that is the path we’re clearly on – and if we do not change course we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem.”

Prof Whitty warned the country should be braced for a tough winter, adding that colder months were known to benefit respiratory viruses.

“So we should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively, it’s not indefinite,” he said.

Sir Patrick added that if current infection rates continue, the UK could see about 50,000 cases a day by the middle of October. He said 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”.

It comes as infection rates in areas of Yorkshire continued to rise. In Bradford, for the seven days to Friday last week, latest figures showed the infection rate rose to 116.9 per 100,00 people from 101.3, a rise in cases from 547 to 631. In Sefton, the rate rose from 53.9 per 100,00 to 93.3, and cases rose from 149 to 258, over the same period. Cases and infection rates also rose in Leeds, Kirklees, Craven, Rotherham, and Doncaster.

A further two deaths were recorded in Yorkshire on Monday in people who had previously tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the region’s total to at least 2,941. Nationally, 11 further deaths were reported, bringing the total to 41,788.

Meanwhile, the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus in England is the highest it has been since the end of June. The latest Government data revealed 205 people with Covid-19 were admitted on Friday – the most since June 27, when the figure was 209.

There were 1,141 confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospitals in England on Sunday, with 241 of those in Yorkshire and the North-East.

Earlier Health Secretary Matt Hancock had announced a new exemption for those living in areas with local coronavirus restrictions to help with childcare, allowing parents to go to work.

Residents in Bradford, Kirklees, and Calderdale will be told to abide by restrictions across the districts from Tuesday, whereas only some areas had been covered previously.

But the rules, which ban two households mixing in private residences, had caused concern for those who rely on family help for childcare to allow them to go to work.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said there would now be exemptions in places, which he hoped would provide “clarity and comfort”.

Mr Hancock said: “I’ve heard the concerns about the impact of local action on childcare arrangements.

“For many, informal childcare arrangements are a lifeline, without which they couldn’t do their jobs.

“So, today I’m able to announce a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.

“This covers both formal and informal arrangements.

“It does not allow for play-dates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship that is vital for somebody to get to work is allowed.”

He added: “I hope this change will provide clarity and comfort to many people who are living with these local restrictions.”

It comes after lobbying from MPs including Colne Valley’s Jason McCartney and Dewsbury’s Mark Eastwood.

Mr McCartney welcomed the move as Mr Hancock said: “It allows for where a family member or other undertakes unpaid childcare that is akin to paid-for childcare.”

Mr Hancock added: “We know from experience that local action can work when local communities come together to follow the rules, tackle the virus and keep themselves safe.

“I know how hard this is.”

He added: “We’re constantly looking for how we can ensure measures bear down on the virus as much as possible while protecting both lives and livelihoods.”