Everything you need to know about the Governments updated Covid policy

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A little more than an hour ago, the Prime Minister faced Parliament to give a statement on the current status of the covid pandemic, as he offered a much anticipated update to Government directives.

The address saw the Prime Minister announce the following measures:

• 1. Directives to work from Home where possible (again)

In what is a significant climb down to past directives, the Prime Minister stressed the need for the public to work from home where possible. The decision will largely impact office workers and those in service led lines of work. It was added that if unable to do so (as in the case of construction and retail workers) you would be expected to continue going to work.

• 2. 10pm curfew across the Hospitality industry

From Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants will be restricted to table service only in measures set out by the Prime Minister. This is with the exception of takeaways. Additionally, all Hospitality services must now be closed by 10pm.

• 3. Face covering requirements extended

The requirements for face coverings has been made compulsory and extended to staff in retail. This is the same for all users of taxis and private hire vehicles as well as staff and customers of indoor hospitality. This is with the exception of when seated to eat and drink.

• 4. Changes to retail, leisure and tourism

Across retail, tourism and leisure, adoption of the government's 'covid secure guidelines' will now become a legal obligation. Businesses face the threat of fines and potential closure should they breach the rules.

• 5. Rule of six tightened

Last Monday saw the rule of six come into effect. It saw the government announce measures to restrict Social gatherings to no more than six people with some exceptions. These exceptions have now been further restricted. The updated directive will now see a maximum of 15 people allowed to attend weddings ceremonies and receptions. For funerals, the number will be restricted to 30. The rule of six is also extended to all adult indoor team sports.

• 6. Business conferences and exhibitions to remain off the cards for now

Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will no longer be allowed to return from October 1st. This is particularly notable news given the start of the football season. The Prime Minister acknowledged that they were "the life and soul" of our communities, but that the rate of infection had not yet subsided to the necessary point.

What is the reason behind the swift change?

The sharp change in direction has been prompted by an increase in positive cases across the UK. The Prime Minister's address follows yesterday's warning from the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, concerning the current state of affairs after Sunday's news that 3,899 had tested positive for the virus. This contrasts with a month ago when figures hovered closer to 1000 positive cases a day - since then this figure has close to quadrupled. The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between 7-20 days with a possibility of 10's of thousands of new infections by next month. Just as Whitly had done a day prior, the Prime Minister dismissed the idea that the growing number of cases could just be a function of more testing, as a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result.

Yesterday's conference saw the covid alert level raised to four, reflecting the fact that transmission is high or rising exponentially. It is believed that the number of cases is growing most among those aged 20-29 but there has also been an increase in transmission among the most vulnerable. The last forthright has seen daily hospital admissions in England more than double as the Prime Minister also expressed his fear that the impact of the virus may worsen as we move from Autumn into Winter.

All of this of course is being done to reduce the R number, which is the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus onto. Schools, universities and places of worship are staying open. Crucially, the Prime Minister stressed that the public can expect the existing measures to last for as long as 6 months, with potential for additional restrictions if the R rate does not subside. The Prime Minister added that the devolved administrations will be announcing similar measures in due course.

Mayowa Ayodele

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