British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to work from home where possible and ordered bars and restaurants to close early to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of Covid-19 with restrictions lasting probably six months.After government scientists cautioned that deaths may soar without urgent action, Johnson stopped short of another full lockdown as he did in March but said further action could be taken if the disease was not suppressed.
"We reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions," Johnson on Tuesday told parliament following emergency meetings with ministers and leaders of the United Kingdom's devolved governments."We will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes."He said Britain had reached a similarly perilous point as countries like Spain and France."We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.""We are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives and protecting jobs and livelihoods,"said Johnson.
Face masks will be required in more settings, businesses who break rules will be fined, and there will be tougher enforcement against people who do not comply, he said, while the military could be brought in to help free up the police. However, schools and universities will stay open. The United Kingdom already has the biggest official Covid-19 death toll in Europe - 41,788 - while it is borrowing record amounts to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned that the "very unfortunate" escalation of Covid-19 cases threatened the economic outlook and said the central bank was looking hard at how it could support the economy further.