Update (0805ET): With Spain also bringing in the army to reinforce new quarantine restrictions, it appears the new measures unveiled by BoJo – which he warned could last for up to 6 months – may have spooked futures.
- STOXX 600 TRIMS GAINS AFTER JOHNSON’S COMMENTS ON RESTRICTIONS
* * *
With Spain and France now grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks that are on par with the case numbers they battled in the spring (though deaths remain significantly lower this time around as doctors have better learned to treat the disease), and Germany imposing more restrictions as it deals with its latest flareup, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delivered new national COVID-19 restrictions in a statement to the House of Commons.
With roughly 30 million Britons already facing some level of local restrictions above and beyond the national requirements, including ‘local lockdowns’, Johnson has announced new restrictions on pubs and the hospitality industry, while asking millions of Britons to return to working from home, if they can.
The announcement marks a reversal from Johnson’s urging that commuters start to return to city centers as parts of London, and other British cities, start to look like ghost towns, prompting businesses that serve commuters to fail.
New restrictions include the following (per BBG):
- Work from home if possible
- Pubs and restaurants to close by 10pm
- Curbs on large sports events from Oct. 1
- Max 15 guests at weddings
- Fines for breaking rules
But perhaps the biggest changes were on the punitive end. Now, Britons can be fined of up to £10,000 for violations of social distancing restrictions, while fines for first offenses have been doubled.
Johnson promised “significantly greater” restrictions if the UK’s “R” rate fails to drop below 1 in the coming weeks. Britons should assume that the restrictions Johnson just announced could be in place for up to 6 months, and that “we will not listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor those who urge a permanent lockdown.” The government, Johnson said, is doing its best to balance saving people’s lives, with preserving livelihoods and the economy.
He insisted that “we want to avoid taking further steps”, and urged all Britons to abide by the guidelines and protect the national interest.
Some of the measures were previewed earlier by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove during an interview with Radio 4’s “Today” program.
Johnson’s announcement comes as the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in England and Wales rose for the first time since April: with deaths climbing 27% to 99 in the seven days through Sept. 11 from a week earlier, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.
Watch Johnson’s statement below: