The UK government announced on Tuesday, September 22, that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures will be tightened across England in a response to an uptick in cases and an upgrade of the COVID-19 alert level from 3 to 4, meaning that transmission is high or exponentially high. Under the new measures, all pubs, bars, restaurants, and other hospitality venues in England must have a 22:00 closing time from Thursday, September 24. Furthermore, face masks will be compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, and waiters. The limit on guests at weddings is to be reduced from 30 to 15, and plans to allow fans to return to sporting events have been put on hold. Fines for not wearing masks or following rules will also be increased to £200 for the first offence. Also, those who are not working in a COVID-19 secure environment are being advised to work from home.
Several local lockdowns have been announced in recent days in England, and the UK government warned that further local lockdowns may be implicated should the situation deteriorate.
Social gatherings remain limited to six people as of September 14. The wearing of face masks is mandatory in certain public areas, with fines for repeat offenders. Further information regarding the wearing of face masks in the UK can be found here.
Tighter restrictions have also been announced elsewhere in the UK. Authorities in Scotland have announced that from Wednesday, September 23, household visits will be banned nationwide, with exemptions for those living alone, couples not living together, childcare, and tradespeople. A 22:00 curfew will be also put in place for hospitality businesses, including pubs, restaurants, and bars in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, households will no longer be allowed to mix indoors, except for single-person bubbles, and certain other exemptions as of September 22. No more than six people from two households can meet in a garden.
The UK is also using infection rates in other countries to regularly make amendments to the list of countries that are exempt from a required 14-day self-isolation period on arrival in the UK. Countries from where quarantine is required vary for the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). A full list of countries where travelers arriving in England will be exempt from quarantine measures can be found here.
As of Wednesday, September 23, there have been 412,240 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK with 41,951 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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