Boris Johnson urges Britons to work from home as coronavirus cases surge

The UK’s PM Boris Johnson told people on Tuesday to work from home where possible and ordered bars and restaurants to shut earlier in a bid to tackle a fast-spreading second wave of Covid-19, news wires reported.

After government scientists cautioned that deaths may soar without urgent action, Johnson stopped short of another full lockdown as he did in March but said further action could be taken if the disease was not suppressed.

"We reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions," Johnson told parliament following emergency meetings with ministers and leaders of the UK's devolved governments. "We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months."

Just weeks after urging people to start returning to workplaces, Johnson advised office workers to stay at home if they could. He ordered all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality sites to close at 10 p.m. from Thursday with only table service allowed.

Face masks will be required in more settings, businesses who break rules will be fined, and there will be tougher enforcement against people who do not comply, he said, while the military could be brought in to help free up the police. However, schools and universities will stay open.

The United Kingdom already has the biggest official Covid-19 death toll in Europe - 41,788, while it is borrowing record amounts to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.

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