UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered all pubs and bars to be closed by 10pm and introduced stricter social distancing rules. He said urgent action is needed to avoid a second wave of Covid-19.

Speaking in Parliament, Johnson said the government has always known that “the prospect of a second wave was real.” 

I’m sorry to say that, as in Spain and France, and many other countries, we’ve reached a perilous turning point.

The PM urged office-based employees to work from home again, if they can. He confirmed that bars, pubs, and restaurants must close by 10pm from Thursday, along with all other hospitality venues. Police will “enforce” the new rule, Johnson said.

Weddings will be limited to 15 people from Monday. All adult indoor team sports will be limited to six people, in line with most permitted gatherings in the UK at present.

The requirement to wear masks has been extended to retail staff, drivers and passengers in taxis, and patrons in indoor hospitality venues, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. The fines for not wearing masks will now be doubled to £200 ($ 256) for a first offense.

Johnson said the new rules will remain in place “for perhaps six months.”

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The restrictions usher in the final reversion of the ‘back to work’ message Johnson had been promoting since July in the hope of boosting the economy after the lockdown. At the time, the government seemed to have got the spread of Covid-19 under control, which allowed for gradually lifting the quarantine rules.

However, the infection rate has increased again in recent days, prompting Johnson to introduce tougher social distancing regulations earlier this month.

On Monday, 4,368 new cases were reported, up from 3,899 the previous day.

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned that if the alarming trend continues at the current pace, the country “would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.”

As of Monday, the UK has registered 398,625 Covid-19 cases and 41,788 deaths, according to government data.

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