LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britons on Tuesday that they should not expect to return to a normal social or work life for at least six months, as he ordered new restrictions that he hopes will suppress a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.
Saying that Britain had to act now or face a huge second wave of COVID-19, Johnson announced a package of new restrictions, including requiring pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues in England to close down between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and urging people to work from home where possible.
Just weeks ago, Johnson had encouraged workers to go back into the office to keep city centers from becoming ghost towns and expressed hope that society could return to normal by Christmas. In a stark change of tone, he said Tuesday that “for the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives.”
“We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing, but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months,” Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
The announcement came a day after the government’s top scientific and medical advisers said new coronavirus infections were doubling every seven days in the U.K. and could rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October if nothing was done to stem the tide.