LONDON — Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will have their hours limited as part of a suite of new restrictions aimed at curbing a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
Pubs and restaurants will have to close every night by 10 p.m. from Thursday, and venues will be allowed to offer table service only.
“No one actually wants to restrict people enjoying themselves,” Michael Gove, a senior government minister, told the BBC. But, he said, “social mixing can encourage the spread of the virus.” Gove also encouraged more people to work from home going forward.
“If you can work from home, you should,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lay out further measures in a statement to Parliament around lunchtime, followed by an 8 p.m. televised address.
The new curfews are a blow to the hospitality industry, one of the sectors hit hardest by the lockdown in the spring.
The restrictions come a day after the government’s top scientists warned that coronavirus cases could spike to 50,000 per day by mid-October if the current rates — daily new cases doubling roughly every seven days — continue on the same trajectory.
On Monday evening, the coronavirus alert status in Britain was raised from 3 to 4, meaning the transmission is “high or rising exponentially.”
Like many countries in Europe that have seen a renewed rise in coronavirus cases, Britain wants to avoid a full-scale lockdown like the one in the spring.
At a news briefing on Monday, Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said Britons could expect disruptions for some time.
“We should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively,” he said, adding “it’s not indefinite … science will in due course ride to our rescue.”