Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new raft of measures to protect public health. Here, we outline what those measures mean from a family perspective. This article will be updated as new details are published.
The following changes apply to England. The other three nations of the UK follow separate rules.
More Of Us Working From Home Again
Government advice has reverted from “Return to your place of work if you can” to “Work from home if you can”. The Office for National Statistics estimates that about half the adult population was travelling to a workplace in the first half of September. The days of trying to keep the kids quiet while you hold an important Zoom call are back.
You CAN Still Mix With Other Households… For Now
The Government has placed no further restrictions on meeting up with others. For the time being, it is still possible to meet in groups of up to six people (the ‘rule-of-six’) in an indoor or outdoor setting. However, given the steep rise in cases, you should probably think twice about doing so, and limit any gatherings to as few people as possible -- especially if you will also be seeing somebody in a vulnerable category. In Scotland, meeting other households inside a home will now be forbidden.
10pm Hospitality Curfew
Pubs, restaurants and bars must now close by 10pm. That might not seem to be so relevant from a family perspective -- most kids are in bed by this time. However, decreasing the hours that restaurants can operate will put more pressure on an already fragile industry. Your favourite family restaurant may be in jeopardy as a result.
Table Service Only
You may have seen the new rule that cafes, restaurants and bars must only offer table service. It's a bit more nuanced that that. The restriction applies only to places that serve alcohol. So, for example, your local Costa or Starbucks will still serve you from the main counter, as they are not licensed. However, some family-oriented chains that also serve alcohol, such as Nando's, will have to change their operating style, and take your order at the table. Takeaways can continue as normal (though subject to the 10pm curfew).
Expect to see more face coverings. Hospitality staff, retail staff and passengers in taxis will now have to wear a mask. The age at which masks are compulsory (other than for people with health exemptions) remains at 11, at least from what we’ve heard so far.
New Restrictions On Team Sports
Details are still emerging, but it seems that certain sports currently exempted from the ‘rule-of-6’ will now be forbidden. Indoor team sports are mentioned, but more details will follow.
No Sporting Crowds
Plans to allow fans back into sports grounds (e.g. professional football matches) have been paused. No date for reassessment has been given at this point.
Weddings Are Restricted To 15 People
Planning on attending a wedding soon? You might no longer have the nod, as couples have to slash their guest list so the wedding party totals no more than 15. The previous limit was 30.
What About Public Transport?
The Prime Minister made no mention of public transport (other than taxis, where masks must now be worn). It seems we’re still able to use trains and buses to, for example, travel to a cultural venue. However, given that people are being asked to work from home and not commute, it may be sensible to apply the same caution to leisure travel.
Six Months At Least
Earlier optimism about a return to something like normality by Christmas has now evaporated. The Prime Minister now suggests that strong measures may be in place for at least six months -- the other side of winter.
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