Diners pack into busy Soho streets to enjoy a late night out

Last chance! Diners pack into busy Soho streets to enjoy a late night out before new 10pm Covid curfew kicks in on Thursday

  • Boris Johnson will announce major crackdown including imposing 10pm curfew on all UK pubs from Thursday
  • PM will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only and re-emphasise social distancing guidance
  • Drinkers last night flocked to bars and restaurants in Soho, London for a final hurrah ahead of announcement 

Hundreds of diners packed into the busy streets of London last night to enjoy an evening out before the Government imposes tough new restrictions to halt a second wave of coronavirus in England. 

Boris Johnson will today set out a raft of measures designed to clampdown on the disease, including imposing a 10pm curfew on all pubs, bars and restaurants from Thursday. 

The Prime Minister will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only and re-emphasise the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly.   

It is understood businesses and schools will be permitted to stay open under the latest measures, which will be announced by Mr Johnson in a live broadcast at 8pm today following a statement to the House of Commons at noon.

Londoners last night flocked to bars and restaurants in Soho to enjoy a late night out ahead of the announcement, which comes after Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the UK could face 50,000 Covid-19 cases by October. 

Mr Whitty said it was crucial to break ‘unnecessary links between households’ as infections rose over 4,000 per day – their highest rate since the height of lockdown in May.   

Drinkers flocked to bars and restaurants in Soho, central London to enjoy a late night out yesterday before a new 10pm curfew on bars, pubs and restaurants kicks in from Thursday

Boris Johnson will today set out a raft of measures designed to clampdown on the disease, including imposing a 10pm curfew on all pubs, bars and restaurants in England from Thursday. Pictured: Soho, west London

The Prime Minister will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only and re-emphasise the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly. Pictured: A busy Soho street

A senior Government source last night acknowledged the Prime Minister’s ‘back to work’ drive would be paused after scientific advisers warned that workplace transmission was a concern.

Other potential restrictions which could be announced include a further delay to trials of spectators returning to professional sports events, the closure of indoor concert venues and slashing the number of people allowed to attend weddings.  

Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove confirmed the U-turn today as he insisted there needed to be a ‘shift in emphasis’ in order to tackle the rising rate of infection.   

The move represents a damaging moment for Mr Johnson who said in July that people should ‘go back to work now if you can’ and told his Cabinet at the start of September that ‘people are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country and quite right too’.  

The 10pm curfew on the hospitality sector has sparked an immediate industry backlash as the UKHospitality group said it was ‘another crushing blow’.

There are also fears the move could have unintended consequences amid warnings of a potential ‘surge of unregulated events and house parties’.

Tory MPs also expressed concerns about the curfew plans, describing them as a ‘terrible blow’ for the hospitality industry and warning there must not be another ‘major lockdown’.

It was claimed overnight that Mr Johnson had initially backed a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors before Chancellor Rishi Sunak persuaded him to take a less severe course after warning of economic carnage.

It is understood businesses and schools will be permitted to stay open under the latest measures, which will be announced by Mr Johnson in a live broadcast at 8pm today following a statement to the House of Commons at noon

Mr Whitty said it was crucial to break ‘unnecessary links between households’ as infections rose over 4,000 per day – their highest rate since the height of lockdown in May. Pictured: Soho last night

A senior Government source last night acknowledged the Prime Minister’s ‘back to work’ drive would be paused after scientific advisers warned that workplace transmission was a concern

Other potential restrictions which could be announced include a further delay to trials of spectators returning to professional sports events, the closure of indoor concert venues and slashing the number of people allowed to attend weddings

Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove confirmed the U-turn today as he insisted there needed to be a ‘shift in emphasis’ in order to tackle the rising rate of infection. Pictured: Soho, west London

However, there are growing concerns that the Government could move to impose stricter restrictions on socialising which go even further than the current rule of six. That could mean a ban on households mixing inside.

Despite the PM’s new crackdown, some experts have already warned the measures will not be enough after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course.

Calum Semple, a professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said there are ‘several sectors of society which will need to increase their restrictions unfortunately’.

Mr Gove confirmed the shift on working from home this morning, telling Sky News: ‘There is going to be a shift in emphasis and one of the things that we are going to emphasise is if it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so.

Sadiq Khan yesterday said he wants face masks worn in all London’s public spaces in a 15-point coronavirus crackdown he thrashed out with council leaders

The Mayor of London blamed young people socialising in August for an ‘exponential’ increase in coronavirus cases, as he urged the Government to impose a 10pm curfew on all pubs and restaurants throughout the capital

New data this week revealed that coronavirus infection rates in 20 London boroughs are higher than areas of England already hit by further restrictions. Pictured: Soho last night

A map showing the rate of infection per 100,000 people across London’s 32 boroughs 

‘Now, it is important to stress there are many, many, many roles which can’t be performed from home.

‘There are people in manufacturing, in construction, in retail and in other roles where we recognise that is simply impossible and that is why we have worked to make sure you can have Covid-secure workplaces and we need to balance, obviously, the need to ensure that people can continue to work and indeed critically continue to go to school and to benefit from education against taking steps to try to reduce the virus which is why we can limit or appropriately restrain social contact, that is what we are trying to do.’

Mr Gove was unable to say how long the Government’s new coronavirus measures are expected to last.

‘What we hope is we can take appropriate steps now, which mean that if we succeed in beating back the virus, then we will in the future be able to progressively relax them,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘But what I can’t do is predict with absolute certainty.’

Official Downing Street slides showed that if the current rate of infection continues there could be 50,000 coronavirus cases every day by the middle of October and that could lead to 200 plus deaths a day by the middle of November

The number of new Covid-19 being admitted to hospitals in England has been increasing since the start of September

It comes after Sadiq Khan yesterday said he wants face masks worn in all London’s public spaces in a 15-point coronavirus crackdown he thrashed out with council leaders.

London boroughs where infection rates are higher than parts of England already hit by restrictions  

The other areas with higher infection rates than Ribble Valley are: 

Redbridge (34.2), Hounslow (32.5), Barking and Dagenham (29.3), Enfield (27.3) Newham (27), Ealing (26.9), Hackney (25.7), Tower Hamlets (25.5), Hammersmith and Fulham (24.8), Harrow (24.4), Havering (24.4), Kensington and Chelsea (23.7), Wandsworth (23), Brent (22.7), Haringey (21.4), Waltham Forest (21), Camden (20.6), Lambeth (20.6), Southwark (19.2) and Barnet (18.6). 

The Mayor of London blamed young people socialising in August for an ‘exponential’ increase in coronavirus cases, as he urged the Government to impose a 10pm curfew on all pubs and restaurants throughout the capital.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Khan hinted at further restrictions on people’s lives in his 15-point coronavirus plan, including curbs at funerals and weddings, as he claimed the Rule of Six ‘isn’t by itself sufficiently slowing down the virus spreading’. 

He threatened to take ‘additional measures’ to suppress coronavirus as he called on Londoners to avoid public transport and work from home ‘where possible’. 

New data this week revealed that coronavirus infection rates in 20 London boroughs are higher than areas of England already hit by further restrictions.

Public Health England’s most recent watchlist shows the authority in England with the lowest case rate considered an ‘area of intervention’ – the highest degree of concern – is Ribble Valley, with 18.3 cases per 100,000.

But Kensington and Chelsea, Enfield and Southwark, among others, have infection rates much higher than that. Redbridge (34.2), Hounslow (32.5) and Barking and Dagenham (29.3) are the three worst-hit parts of the capital. 

Across London as a whole, the rate of cases is reported to have increased in a seven day period ending early last week, from 18.8 per 100,000 people to around 25. 

It’s a rise of 33 per cent in one week – faster than the North East, which last week was hit by tougher restrictions to control the spread of the virus. 

The number of cases per 100,000 has jumped up from 18.8 to around 25 in seven days amid schools re-opening and a drive to get people back into offices and pubs, data suggests. If it crosses over 50, a ‘local lockdown’ could be triggered, documents seen by The Evening Standard reveal.  

And the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates 0.2 per cent of London’s population – 178,000 people – are currently carrying the coronavirus, which is second only to the North West. For comparison, the rate in the North East is just 0.16 per cent.   

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