United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced that he will make the Army available to help police enforce strict new coronavirus rules he is putting in place for up to six months.
Johnson said police will have the “option to draw on military support where required” as he warned Britons not to expect a return to a normal life any time soon.
“We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police,” he said.
The PM’s spokesman later clarified Johnson’s statement, the BBC reported. “This is not about providing any additional powers to the military, or them replacing the police in enforcement roles, and they will not be handing out fines. It is about freeing up more police officers.”
The BBC put out a list of the stringent new rules:
- Pubs, bars, and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST (10 p.m.)
- They will also be restricted to table service only
- People should work from home wherever possible
- Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, and waiters
- Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
- Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
- “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports
- Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offense
Johnson said, “we have to take drastic action now — to avoid the risk of more drastic action later on.”
The PM also sought to explain why bars need to close at 10 p.m., saying the government has seen evidence that transmission of COVID-19 “does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed.” And he said, “we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.”
Top officials this week announced a plan to fine people up to 10,000 pounds ($13,000) if they refuse an order to self-isolate, Stars and Stripes reported.
The new rule orders all residents to undergo quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19 — or even if they are traced to have had contact with someone who tests positive. The rule takes effect Sept. 28.
“The government will help those on lower incomes who face a loss of earnings as a result of self-isolating with a one-time support payment of $633,” Stars reports.
The new move comes as COVID-19 cases are rising in the U.K., hitting 4,422 one day last week, the highest since early May.
Said Johnson: “People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines.”
“We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives. And while most people are doing their absolute level best to comply with the rules, I don’t want to see a situation where people don’t feel they are financially able to self-isolate,” the prime minister said.
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