Firms will be fined £10,000 if they break Covid-secure guidelines

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The Prime Minister has announced new measures as coronavirus infections continued to climb after the summer.

Speaking to the House of Commons on 22 September, Mr Johnson said: “we have reached a perilous turning point” and listed steps as the UK coronavirus alert level was raised to four.

Businesses in entertainment, leisure and close contact centres must follow Covid-19 secure guidelines or face £10,000 fines.

Employers are also told they must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

The Prime Minister speaking at the House of Commons today

There is a return of the advice for home workers to work from home if they can. Other workers who cannot do so should continue going to work.

The requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include staff in retail, leisure and hospitality.

Extra funding will be provided to the police and local authorities to enforce the new laws.

Independent Sage say the measures do not go far enough. Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, said: “We are in a crisis. Infections are spiking and our testing system is broken. The one thing that is absolutely clear is if we do nothing the pandemic will soon run out of control and a national lockdown will become inevitable.”

The body says pubs and restaurants should be limited to outdoor service only – going beyond the 10pm curfew just introduced. It also says there should be no return to workplaces until they are certified Covid safe. “We are pushing people into places where they can get infected,” said Reicher.

Janet Newsham, Chair of Hazards campaign, said: “Workplaces are super-spreaders if the transmission risks aren’t controlled. They can only be controlled by reducing transmission risks to a negligible level, by ensuring track and trace is available and working effectively and that people can afford to remain isolated.

“If people contract the virus at work, it will be spread into our communities.”

Frances O’Grady at the TUC, tweeting about the new measures, said companies must be legally required to publish their risk assessments. “Workers are telling us many workplaces are still not Covid-secure.”

There are currently around 6,000 new coronavirus cases every day, Chief Scientific Officer, Patrick Valance said in a briefing the day before the PM’s speech.

He said the epidemic appears to be doubling every seven days. “If that continues unabated then by mid-October there could be…50,000 cases. That would lead by middle of November to something like 200 deaths plus per day.”

“We can avoid this – it’s not a prediction. We have the tools to slow it but it requires speed, it requires action and it requires enough in order to bring it down.”

Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said higher transmissions began in workplaces and other settings: “What we’ve seen is a progression, where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rate right down across the country, firstly we saw small outbreaks which might be associated with the workplace or other environments.

"Then we’ve seen more localized [outbreaks]. And now what we’re seeing is an increase across the great majority of the country.”

This story has been updated on 23/09/20 

Coronavirus: What has changed - 22 September here 


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