England Imposes Fresh Coronavirus Restrictions to Avoid Second Lockdown

Boris Johnson
Sky News

UPDATED: England has imposed a fresh set of restrictions to stall the rapid spread of coronavirus that will be valid for the next six months, but so far, film and TV production remains unaffected.

The devolved administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will issue their own guidelines.

Those who can work from home are once again being asked to work from home, except for those professions that cannot be carried out from home. From Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm, and will offer only table service. Face masks remain mandatory inside businesses, while fines for those not wearing masks have doubled to £200 ($256).

Cinemas and theatres will remain relatively unaffected for now by the 10pm deadline. “It will not apply to theatres and cinemas where performances may run over the 10pm deadline,” tweeted U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

However, a film cannot start after 10pm, nor can alcohol be served after that time, in England and Scotland, the U.K. Cinema Association has confirmed to Variety.

“Due to the rapid spread due to social contact, I’m afraid we can no longer permit exemptions for indoor grassroots sport & amateur performing arts and choirs,” Dowden tweeted.

There was no immediate policy decision announced on the impact on film and TV production. However, Variety understands that, on the face of it, the new safeguarding measures don’t yet restrict ongoing productions, except to make COVID-safe protocols legally binding and punishable via hefty fines for companies.

“We have reached a perilous turning point,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon. “We always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real. This is the moment we must act. This is by no means a full lockdown.”

“These measures will work only if people comply,” said Johnson. Businesses breaking COVID rules will also be fined, he added.

The PM also warned that the country couldn’t afford to take it easy after six months, saying that “complacency could be our undoing.”

On Monday, the country’s top government advisers warned that the virus is growing exponentially and could reach 49,000 infections a day by mid-October and 200 deaths a day by November.

Johnson said that there would be “greater restrictions” if the current measures don’t work. Addressing the public in a broadcast speech on Tuesday evening, Johnson did not roll out further measures.

Instead, he called for a “spirit of togetherness” and collective common sense to see out the crisis. He said that rules would be strictly enforceable. “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour,” Johnson said. He ended on a positive note, saying that there would be “great days ahead.”

The U.K. recorded 4,926 positive cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest since May 7.