British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will order pubs, bars and restaurants in England to shut their doors by 10:00 p.m. on Thursday under new nationwide restrictions to halt a rise in coronavirus cases, The Guardian reported on Monday.
Police have also been handed powers to issue £1,000 fines and make arrests to enforce two-meter social distancing in pubs and restaurants, the newspaper reported.
Johnson is expected to make an address to the nation on Tuesday setting out the new measures.
With cases doubling every week across the UK and a second wave expected to last up to six months, health officials had advised the government over the weekend to “move hard and fast”, according to a source.
The UK’s COVID-19 alert level was raised to four on Monday, meaning the virus is “high or rising exponentially”, a move that gave Johnson cover for renewed action.
The new measures are softer than those mooted in advice from government scientific advisers in recent weeks, which had included a two-week full lockdown as a “circuit-breaker” to halt the exponential increase in infections.
Bars warned that their earnings would be hit by the 10:00 p.m. curfew, with Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, saying the new rules may push some in the sector “to breaking point”.
Britain recorded a further 4,368 coronavirus cases on Monday, the second-highest daily total since early May and only the third time this autumn the figures had topped 4,000.