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UK coronavirus lockdown restrictions on gatherings of more than 6 people are set to remain at least until Christmas


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UK coronavirus lockdown restrictions on gatherings of more than 6 people are set to remain at least until Christmas

The ban on large social gatherings in England will be in place until at least mid-December, officials said. The move raised concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will last beyond Christmas if it is not brought under control. Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said cases were rising consistently across the country and fastest among…

UK coronavirus lockdown restrictions on gatherings of more than 6 people are set to remain at least until Christmas
  • The ban on large social gatherings in England will be in place until at least mid-December, officials said.
  • The move raised concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will last beyond Christmas if it is not brought under control.
  • Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said cases were rising consistently across the country and fastest among young people, particularly those between 17 and 21.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that new data pointing to a rapid increase in new infections showed that “we must act,” adding that “everyone, at all times, should limit social contact as much as possible and minimise interactions with other households.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ban on large social gatherings in England will be in place until at least mid-December, government officials indicated, raising concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will last beyond Christmas if it is not brought under control.

Johnson on Tuesday announced a ban on social gatherings of more than six people, in a bid to contain what health officials have described as an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections across the country.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the prime minister along with Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, the chief science adviser, urged people to distance themselves from people in other households wherever possible.

Whitty said that cases were rising consistently across the country and fastest among young people, particularly those between 17 and 21.

He refused to put a date on when the restrictions would be lifted. He did say, however, that it would be “very unlikely to be just over in two or three weeks,” adding that “people shouldn’t just see this as a very short-term thing.”

A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that the measures would be in place for at least three months and could be in place for longer if the spread of the virus is not slowed.

Johnson suggested in July that social-distancing guidelines could be lifted with a “return to normality” by Christmas.

But he conceded on Wednesday that new data pointing to a rapid increase in new infections showed that “we must act,” adding that “everyone, at all times, should limit social contact as much as possible and minimise interactions with other households.”

“You should keep your distance from anyone you don’t live with,” he said.

The move raised questions about other parts of the government’s coronavirus strategy, which has included encouraging people to use public transport and return to offices despite concerns that such settings could help to spread the virus.

Johnson said restaurants, hotels, pubs, schools, and universities would remain open and would be closed again only as a last resort.

“These measures are not a second national lockdown,” he said. “The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown.”

The government has struggled to keep up with demand for coronavirus tests; people seeking tests have been directed to health centres hundreds of miles away.

The National Health Service chief in charge of testing has attributed the delays to bottlenecks in laboratories that process the tests.

And Matt Hancock, the health minister, recently suggested that the system was “excellent” and blamed people for seeking tests in instances where they were ineligible.

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