BORIS Johnson will tomorrow order pubs to shut at 10pm every night after dire warnings of thousands more cases of Covid-19.
The curfew, from this Thursday, will also hit restaurants and all other hospitality venues in England.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The Prime Minister hopes the move, along with other restrictions to be announced, will avoid the need for a second crippling lockdown.
Boris Johnson has staved off pressure from Cabinet to shut the hospitality industry completely and will address the nation on TV at 8pm.
This follows a chilling briefing from the UK’s top docs that we had “in a bad sense literally turned a corner” — with the death rate primed to hit 200 per day again within weeks.
The package of new measures to be unveiled will also include a dramatic increase in enforcement measures to make sure people are obeying the Rule of Six.
More fines could be slapped on those flouting the rules with on-the-spot closures for venues that fail to follow the rules.
Ministers are also poised to signal more working from home is required, just weeks after begging Brits to return to their offices.
There are mounting fears that social mixing between households inside could be banned after it was outlawed in Northern Ireland.
That seems increasingly likely after the medics’ dire warning that people could be ordered to stay away from family and friends — rules already in place in some parts of the country.
Tonight, it was unclear when that measure would come into force — but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hinted: “We need to push down on the R-rate by restricting social contact.”
There will be a significant cap on the number of guests allowed at weddings.
But businesses and schools will be able to stay open as No10 attempts to stave off a second lockdown.
The Covid threat level was raised from three to four, meaning the virus is running amok across the country — signalling six months of further misery.
Chief medical adviser Chris Whitty warned everyone has a part to play in stopping the disease, insisting: “This is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problems.”
But following a major Cabinet backlash, Mr Johnson stepped back from more sweeping and draconian measures, including the closure of pubs entirely.
A senior Whitehall source said: “Every option comes with a very big stick.”
The PM will chair an emergency meeting of Cobra this morning — the first in months — and summon his Cabinet to sign off his new clampdown.
The nation has been told they should limit the number of households that people are coming into contact with to minimise the risk of infection.
People in the North and Midlands are already banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens, or hanging out with people they do not live with in pubs.
This also means people in relationships who do not live together cannot meet.
But all of the measures are designed by Mr Johnson to avoid a full lockdown.
The halfway house plans came after an outpouring of anger from the Government’s own MPs and warnings against shutting down the hospitality sector from Rishi Sunak.
The Chancellor, backed by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, led a charge from the Cabinet against a plea from Health Secretary Matt Hancock, supported by Michael Gove, to take more sweeping action against pubs.
Senior officials at both the Treasury and Business department said the hospitality industry is key to us bouncing back from the pandemic.
Mr Hancock was greeted in the Commons today by anger from Tory benches.
Despite avoiding a full shutdown, industry chiefs greeted news of the pub curfew with dismay.
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said: “We’ve only just finished Eat Out To Help Out — the public is confused.”
Dr Bharat Pankhania, an epidemiologist from the University of Exeter, said it would be ineffective.
He claimed: “The virus does not understand the clock, so if you’re going to close at 10pm, what about at 9pm, what about 8pm?”
‘Too early to put lid back on’
By Professor Robert Dingwall, health data expert
THE Government’s scientists warn the UK is at a tipping-point.
But I believe it is too early to panic.
There is a growing feeling models being used are absolute worst-case scenarios. That spooks everybody.
Scientists employing different models believe there is an alternative, less scary prediction for the future of the virus.
It is possible that we are now moving up to a new plateau.
We should at least wait for another week’s data before closing down any more of the economy.
Screwing the lid tightly back on the nation again could do more harm in terms of mental health, job losses and access to health care.
Londoners face fresh restrictions within days after cases in some parts soared higher than areas of England already in lockdown.
London mayor Sadiq Khan is due to formally request local measures after he met the leaders of the city’s 32 boroughs today.
The number of weekly cases in London has hit around 25 cases per 100,000 residents — higher than other areas of England that are on Public Health England’s watchlist.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]
— to www.thesun.co.uk