January 20, 2021

Coronavirus: What are the new restrictions and why are they needed?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of new restrictions to fight the coronavirus outbreak in a televised address from 10 Downing Street.

What are the new measures?
The prime minister said:

Shops selling “non-essential goods” including clothes and electronics stores will be closed immediately
Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship will also close
Gatherings of more than two people (excluding people who live together) will be banned
There will be no weddings or baptisms but funerals will be allowed
Parks will remain open but people are only to go out to exercise once a day
Mr Johnson said that if these rules are not followed then police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

People are also being told not to meet friends or family members who do not live with them.

Mr Johnson said people would only be allowed to leave their homes in future for specific and limited purposes:

Shopping for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible. People should use delivery services, where they can
Medical reasons, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Travelling to and from work, but only if it is “absolutely necessary”
The measures will last for three weeks from 23 March before being reviewed.

What about online deliveries?
Customers should still be able to receive deliveries placed online.

Amazon told the BBC that there would be some changes, with essential items (like food and healthcare products) being prioritised. That means that delivery times for other items may take longer than usual.

Amazon drivers have been advised to place packages at the customer’s doorstep and step back, in order to avoid any unnecessary contact.

What about parents who live in separate places?
Parents who live separately will also be allowed to move children under 18 between their houses, according to Cabinet minister Michael Gove.

What about takeaways?
People can still use takeaway shops and delivery companies, according to the government’s guidance.

However, customers must not consume food or drinks while waiting for their food.

Despite being allowed to remain open, some food retailers have still decided to close – including Greggs and McDonalds.

Why are tougher restrictions being introduced?
The government had already told people that to prevent the spread of coronavirus they should only go out when necessary – for example, to buy food and medicine, or for exercise.

When out, people have been told to keep at least 2m (6ft) apart from other people. This is known as social distancing.

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