UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to address the nation at 8 pm today through a special televised message, his third special televised message in his reign as Prime Minister. This address to the nation is to announce a raft of strict new lockdown curbs in the battle against the UK’s second wave of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister has called on ministers for a Cobra emergency committee meeting today, 22 September, to discuss and plan the country’s next steps in tackling the pandemic; followed by the national message. To put things into perspective, the Cobra emergency committee meeting is only ever convened during major crises.
This meeting comes after the raising of the UK’s COVID alert level from level 3 to level 4, the second-highest threat level marker. This threat marker means that the virus is in public circulation with a high transmission risk. This also means that the virus transmission rate has the potential to increase exponentially. The alert level was raised from 3 to 4 on Monday, 21 September, for the first time since June as 4,368 cases were confirmed, with 11 deaths adding to the tally. This brings UK’s COVID numbers to nearly 400,000 cases and more than 41,000 deaths.
The Prime Minister’s message will likely contain various reports, details and plans about curbing the pandemic’s spread. These could include stricter social distancing rules with an emphasis on rules regarding household comingling as the government has decided to abandon its pleas for workers to return to offices as the Prime Minister recently urged Britons to work from home if they are able to do so. Other potential measures on the table include the closure of indoor concert venues and the further delay of the return of spectators in professional sporting events. The Number 10 has also confirmed that the hospitality sector will be service restricted and will be subject to a curfew.
Some of the government’s COVID related restrictions have already been announced. A 10 pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants is to be imposed on Thursday, 24 September, with no news of an exact end date.
With this in mind, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) warns of thousands of jobs losses in the UK’s casino sector should a 10 pm curfew be implemented. Pubs, bars, restaurants and casinos offering such services have responded to this by vowing to implement additional measures and extra steps to prevent more closures.
Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, commented on this recent development saying that the BGC supports the need to act swiftly to protect public health and safety and that it appreciated the government for supporting UK casinos so far. However, he stated that despite the government’s good intentions, an implemented curfew would only lead to a negligible impact on COVID numbers while resulting in a devastating impact on the casino industry. He detailed this further by saying that a blanket implementation of a 10 pm curfew on businesses would be catastrophic and would lead to permanent casino closures. He also stressed that casino closures would certainly result in thousands of job redundancies.