All restaurants, bars and other so-called non-essential businesses will close down in the UK for a four-week period, according to new restrictions to combat the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Restaurants will have to pull down the shutters on their business at midnight on 5 November, and will have to keep them down until Wednesday, 2 December. As in March, restaurants may still fulfil takeaway and pickup orders. Pubs will be disproportionately hit by the new measures, as the sale of takeaway alcohol will not be permitted by either restaurants or pubs. Unlike in March, schools and universities will remain open for the duration of the lockdown.
The new restrictions became necessary when the government’s scientific advisory board, SAGE, observed that the second wave with of the virus in the country was beginning to exhibit a higher death toll.
Too little too late?
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for not implementing the national knockdown earlier, and instead opting for a ‘three-tier’ strategy that many say caused confusion in the country. The three-tier strategy was employed to varying degrees of success in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. However, this is decisive national action which aims to have a Christmas period where movement can be permitted and the economy can recover.
The UK shut down last March, opening up in summer when the government introduced the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, which was devised to support the country’s ailing hospitality sector with subsidies to encourage diners to eat out in restaurants.
While the scheme was lauded by many, and indeed emulated in other countries, critics have claimed that it was partly responsible for giving the virus a foothold on its way to the second wave of infection.
Prime Minister Johnson has warned that the second wave of the coronavirus could be “twice as bad” as in the spring, necessitating the new measures.
"Models of our scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave," Johnson told the House of Commons.
"Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level."
Nevertheless, people remain frustrated and angry at the toll the virus is having on the country’s economy.
Europe is in the midst of a second wave of the coronavirus, spurring many governments to impose harsh lockdown measures much like they did earlier this year. However, in contrast to the first wave, popular opinion is not consistently on the side of the authorities.
Civil unrest has occurred in many European cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples and Florence, and it remains a possibility that protests may spread across the continent.