At 4pm this afternoon (Wednesday), the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, hosted a Downing Street briefing to outline the latest changes to the Government’s coronavirus guidelines.
He confirmed that from Monday (14 September), the ‘rule of six’ will be introduced in England and legislation will be in place to prevent people meeting up in groups of more than six.
Local authorities will introduce ‘Covid-secure marshals’ to enforce the government’s new rules and they will be supported by environmental safety officers.
It is unclear yet whether existing staff at Bedford Borough Council would fulfil the marshal roles, or whether they would be recruiting.
Hospitality businesses that don’t collect contact data for all customers will face fines.
The PM confirmed that the ‘rule of six’ measure replaces the existing guidelines, which people had complained were ‘too complicated’.
“We are simplifying and strengthening the message. You only need to remember the rule of six,” he said.
He also reiterated the latest government message of ‘Hands, Face, Space’, reminding people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, wear face coverings in shops and enclosed spaces and maintain at least 1m social distancing.
Rise in number of cases
Over the last week, coronavirus cases have risen significantly from around 12.5 cases per 100,000 to around 19.7 cases per 100,000.
The under-30s are the group that has seen the biggest increase. These figures do not just reflect more people are getting tested; the percentage positive rate has gone up too.
17 and 18-year-olds: 48.1 cases per 100,000. Percentage positive rate is 6.1%.
19 to 21-year-olds: 54.5 cases per 100,000. Percentage positive rate is 5.1%.
20 to 29-year-olds: 41.6 cases per 100,000. Percentage positive rate is 3.7%.
Officials are working on the assumption that the R rate is now above 1, ahead of the publication of weekly data on Friday.
Additionally, pubs and restaurants will, by law, have to take contact details for tracing purposes and will be fined if they don’t.
Schools and colleges will be kept open ‘as a priority’ said the PM. They should only be closed as a last resort.
The PM said the government is working on a plan of mass testing and aims to increase capacity to half a million tests per day.
New, quicker tests which can give a result in 20 minutes would be used to identify people who are negative, so they can behave in a normal way.
The PM described this as his “moon shot” and that he hopes it can be rolled out by the spring. He clarified that he cannot guarantee these advances will be possible.