COVID-19: Boris Johnson ‘reluctant’ to curb civil liberties but warns of further restrictions

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said he was ‘reluctant’ to curb civil liberties to fight coronavirus but put the country on notice that there could be further restrictive measures if cases continue to rise.

In a live address to the nation, he warned that the government would consider introducing further restrictions if people do not adhere to the rules.

“Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour,” he said.

“But if people don’t follow the rules we’ve set out, then we must reserve the right to go further.”

He added that he would not discount bringing in the army to “backfill if necessary” to combat rule-breaking.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister announced a raft of new measures to combat a spike in new infections in a statement to the House of Commons.

It comes as the UK recorded 4,926 new infections, the highest daily increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the country since May 7.

Bars, restaurants and hospitality venues will now have introduce table service and close at 10 pm from Thursday. Rules on the wearing of face coverings were also tightened and tougher fines for breaches of the rules introduced.

In his TV address, he said the new measures being implemented would ensure that schools, shops, restaurants and pubs could remain open.

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales also broadcast their own messages.

“The last six months have been unprecedented,” Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, said. “They’ve the hardest any of us have ever lived through. Through our collective efforts across Scotland, we did beat Covid back.”

While she acknowledged successes in tackling the virus and lifting restrictions, she warned that “challenge was getting harder” as winter loomed.

Restrictions announced in Scotland went further than those as outlined by the Westminster government for England.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said Scotland would follow similar rules on restaurant and pub closures.

In addition, meetings between other households indoors would be temporarily banned.

“We intend – as Northern Ireland did yesterday – to also introduce nationwide additional restrictions on household gatherings, similar to those already in place in the West of Scotland,” she told the Scottish Parliament.

“This extends the restriction that has been in place across the West of Scotland for the last three weeks to all of Scotland. Regulations giving effect to this change will come into force on Friday, but I am asking people to comply from tomorrow.”

Scotland recorded 383 new cases of coronavirus and one death.

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