Boris Johnson issues plea for public to limit social contact in bid to halt coronavirus spread

Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference, following the announcement that the legal limit on

Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has urged people to limit their social contact 'as much as possible' as he announced changes to coronavirus restrictions.

The prime minister appeared in the first Downing Street press briefing on Covid-19 since July to warn members of the public to adhere to new laws banning the gathering of groups of more than six people.

Johnson also urged the public minimise interactions with other households and announced the changes would come into effect from Monday

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He said: 'If we are to beat the virus then everyone, at all times, should limit social contact as much as possible

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'It is safer to meet outdoors and you should keep your distance from anyone you don't live with, even if they are close friends or family.

'So in England, from Monday, we are introducing the rule of six. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six - and if you do, you will be breaking the law.

'This will apply in any setting, indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub.

'The ban will be set out in law and it will be enforced by the police - anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.'

The prime minister also announced:

- Venues where people meet socially, such as pubs and restaurants, will be legally required to request contact details of every member of a party and retain the information for 21 days. Fines of £1,000 could be levied against hospitality venues if they fail to comply.

- Passengers travelling to the UK will need to fill out a simplified form with their contact details before they depart, while the Border Force will step up enforcement efforts to ensure compliance with quarantine rules.

- Plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month will be revised, and the government is reviewing its intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres from October 1.

- Opening hours of some venues could be restricted in some local areas. It comes after hospitality venues in Bolton were required to close between 10pm and 5am.

- 'Covid-secure marshals' will be introduced to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres in a bid to improve the enforcement capacity of local authorities.

The new rules follow a rise in cases from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the UK in the last week - with a particular rise in infections among young people.

Infections are most prevalent among the 19 to 21-year-old age group, with 54 cases per 100,000 people.

The uptick suggests the national R number is now above 1 - meaning the virus is spreading exponentially.

Johnson also urged people not to book a coronavirus test unless they have symptoms or have been asked to book a test, following reports that people were being denied Covid-19 tests.

'We are increasing our testing capacity further to meet rising demand. You can help by only booking a test if you have a fever, a new continuous cough, or you've lost your sense of taste or smell - if you don't have those symptoms and haven't been asked to book a test, please don't,' he said.

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