British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is implementing new COVID-19 restrictions, and he says "we should assume" they'll extend into 2021.
Johnson on Tuesday said "we must take action to suppress the disease" after the United Kingdom has seen its number of daily COVID-19 cases rise, which he noted is not "merely a function of more testing." The British government on Monday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases since May with 4,300 infections, and government scientists warned that without new steps, that number could rise to 49,000, The Associated Press reports.
"We always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real, and I'm sorry to say that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we've reached a perilous turning point," Johnson said.
Beginning on Thursday, pubs, bars, restaurants, and other hospitality venues must close at 10 p.m. Additionally, weddings will be restricted to 15 people, face masks will be required in taxis and among retail staff, and those who can work from home are being asked to do so. The U.K.'s plan to reopen "business conferences, exhibitions, and large sporting events" starting on Oct. 1 will also be halted.
"We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass testing," Johnson said. "But unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months."
While Johnson said the U.K. is not returning to "the full lockdown of March," he warned that if the new steps do not bring the coronavirus R number below one, then "significantly greater restrictions" could be implemented.