Selasa, 08 September 2020

England bans gatherings of more than six as coronavirus cases spike - ABC News

The British government says tough new restrictions on social gatherings will be implemented from next week across the whole of England, after a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases.

Officials said from Monday, the legal limit on all social gatherings in England would be reduced from the current 30 people to just six.

The new law will apply indoors and outdoors, including private homes, restaurants and parks.

Failure to comply could result in a 100-pound (AU$180) fine.

A spike in coronavirus cases across the UK has been largely blamed on party-going young adults disregarding social distancing rules.

Downing Street said urgent action was needed after the number of daily laboratory-confirmed positive cases hit nearly 3,000 on Sunday.

The figure dipped on Tuesday to 2,460.

Weddings, schools, funerals and organised team sports are exempt from the new restrictions, and larger gatherings will also be allowed if the household or "support bubble" is larger than six.

People sit gathered at dining tables set up on a street with buildings in the background.
The new law applies indoors and outdoors, including private homes, restaurants and parks.(ABC News: Nick Dole)

Government ministers and scientists took to the airways to urge Britons not to let down their guard.

"We've been able to relax a bit over the summer ... but these latest figures really show us that much as people might like to say 'Oh well, it's gone away' - this hasn't gone away," said Dr Jonathan Van-Tam, the government's deputy chief medical officer.

He said while the rise in infections is "much more marked" among people aged between 17 and 21, he was concerned about a "more general and creeping geographic trend" across the UK.

"Now is the time for us to re-engage and realize that this is a continuing threat."

Europe's worst death toll

A man wears a face mask while sitting far from the other few passengers on an Underground train.
The UK has Europe's highest death toll from the virus, with more than 41,600 deaths.(AP: Alberto Pezzali)

The UK has Europe's highest death toll from the virus, with over 41,600 deaths.

The actual toll is believed to be far higher as the government tally does not include those who died without having been tested.

The spike in UK cases follows big daily case increases in Spain and France, both of whom have seen rising numbers of COVID-19 patients being hospitalised.

Spain saw an average of 8,800 new cases a day over the weekend, and France has been recording more than 5,000 a day.

UK authorities worry they will also start seeing increases in virus patients being hospitalised and dying.

"While young people are less likely to die from this disease, be in no doubt that they are still at risk," health secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers.

He said that six months after becoming infected, some previously fit people are still laid low by chronic fatigue, muscle pain and breathing difficulties.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government has faced strong criticism for its mixed messages since it started easing the coronavirus lockdown in late spring.

It spent much of the summer encouraging people to eat out to help the hard-pressed hospitality sector, and is now urging workers to return to their offices to help hard-hit businesses in city centres.

The government has also been criticised for testing problems, prompting an apology from Sarah-Jane Marsh, director for the National Health Service's Test and Trace program.

"All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don't look overcrowded. It's our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch point," she said.

Still, the UK is testing tens of thousands more people than it did in the early months of the pandemic. On Monday, it processed around 175,000 tests.

A local lockdown, meanwhile, went into effect Tuesday in the Welsh district of Caerphilly.

Under the new restrictions, people there will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse, everyone over 11 must wear masks in shops, and indoor meetings between different households are banned.

New lockdown restrictions were also announced for Bolton, a city in northwest England, which has the highest number per capita coronavirus cases in the UK.


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2020-09-08 22:56:00Z

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