UK's Johnson urges 'spirit of togetherness' to combat virus

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People eat and drink outside in Soho, in London, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm, due to the spike of cases of coronavirus across the United Kingdom. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed Tuesday for resolve and a “spirit of togetherness” through the winter as he unveiled new restrictions on everyday life to suppress a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases.

Warning that the measures could last for six months, Johnson voiced hope that “things will be far better by the spring” when a vaccine and mass testing could be in place.

The most high-profile change centered on pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues in England, which from Thursday must close at 10 p.m. In a change of emphasis, Johnson urged people to work from home where possible. He said stiff fines will be imposed on anyone breaking quarantine rules or gathering in groups of more than six, while the use of face masks will be expanded to include passengers in taxis and staff at bars and shops.

He said further restrictions might have to be introduced if people fail to abide by the rules.

“If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together,” Johnson said in a prime-time televised address. “But now is the time for us all to summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through.”

In a speech with deliberate echoes of World War II communal spirit, Johnson said that “never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behavior.”

The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — also tightened restrictions, going further in some cases.

The new curbs came as the U.K. recorded 4,926 new confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest daily total since early May and four times the figure of a month ago.