UK on ‘edge of losing control’ of Covid-19 as Brits told to shun ‘party weekend’

Medical experts have urged Brits not to party this weekend ahead of strict new coronavirus gathering restrictions as there are fears the UK is “on the edge of losing control” of the virus.

From Monday, gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of six people as the government introduces new rules in a bid to get sharply rising coronavirus infection rates under control.

As a result, there are fears many will gather in large groups this weekend as a final “hurrah” before the new measures are introduced.

At present, groups of up to 30 can gather for social events – but the rules are set to change dramatically in less than 48 hours.

With testing showing an increase of coronavirus positive cases – with an increase in numbers of younger citizens, and now an increase in numbers amid the over 50s – experts fear the UK could be on the cusp of a dangerous second wave of the deadly virus.

Photos from Friday night have shown groups gathering at pubs and bars across the UK ahead of new restrictions being introduced.

Meanwhile, localised spikes in cities including Birmingham have seen tougher local lockdown measures introduced.

The Mirror reports former chief scientific adviser and member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) Sir Mark Walport has warned the public need to reduce the number of people they come into contact with.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the expert was asked whether the UK was still in control of the spread of the virus, and replied: "I think one would have to say that we're on the edge of losing control."

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He continued: "You've only got to look across the Channel to see what's happening in France, what's happening in Spain

"The French on Thursday had 9,800 new infections and one can see their hospital admissions and indeed their intensive care admissions are going up."

He added: "The short answer is the only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with, that lowers the risk.

"It's a very very fine balancing act, it's very important to get youngsters back to school, people to university, but it means we're going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas."

He also urged workers to continue to work from home – in stark contrast to government hopes of seeing a return of workers to offices to boost the flagging economy.

He said: "Where people can work from home there's an extremely strong argument that they should do so."

Meanwhile, Michael Gove has urged the public to act “in tune” with the changing rules of coronavirus.

He told BBC Breakfast: "If people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out, then they are putting other people at risk.

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"The reason why the country's police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus."

He denied that the Government was losing control of Covid-19, saying: "No. I don't accept that."

Form Monday the “rule of six” will come in to force across the UK – with some exceptions and variations in the four different parts of the United Kingdom.

England is to take the strictest approach, with gatherings of more than six made illegal, irrespective of the ages of those involved in the gathering and both whether meeting insider outside.

Single households or support bubble that is larger than six will still be allowed to gather.

While work places and schools are exempt from the rule change, and Covid-secure venues such as places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality settings will still be allowed to admit more than 6 people in total.

While weddings and funerals will still be allowed to go ahead with a limit of 30 guests.

The rules in Wales will be slightly different – with groups over six meeting indoors outlawed, but up to four households can meet to form an extended household.

Children under 12 will be exempt from being included in the number counting.

While outdoor meetings will be permitted for up to 30.

And from Monday, Wales will finally come in line with the rest of the UK to enforce the wearing of face masks in shops and other indoor public spaces.

In Scotland, a maximum of six people from two households will be permitted to meet – however children aged 12 and under will be exempt form the number.

A maximum of 20 will be allowed to attend weddings and funerals.

While Northern Ireland – which has been a leading force in testing and controlling the coronavirus outbreak in the UK – has not announced any new changes to how many people can gather.

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Localised coronavirus restrictions are to be introduced in Belfast and Ballymena, while people from two or more households in these areas will not be able to meet in private settings.

Northern Ireland had already reduced the number of people who could gather indoors in a private home from 10 to six last month due to concerns over rising Covid-19 cases.

While outdoor meeting are permitted for up to 15 people.

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