Boris Johnson told MPs he was taking further measures in order to strike a “delicate balance” of protecting public health and sheltering the economy from the costly impact of shutdowns.
He included new laws for hospitality businesses – including mandated face coverings, a 10pm curfew, and table service – as those that had been “carefully judged” to reduce the rate of infection while causing “the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods”.
Fines of up to £10,000 applicable to individuals failing to self-isolate would also be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules, the Prime Minister said.
Johnson said: “In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal requirements. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach the rules.”
Apology to businesses
He said he understood the frustration of the "law-abiding majority" when it came to those breaching regulations and said rules would be enforced by tighter penalties.
"I'm sorry this will affect many businesses just getting back on their feet but we must act to stop the virus being transmitted in bars and restaurants," Johnson added.
Pubs have been told to enforce the ‘rule of six’, whereby groups of more than six people are banned from meeting up indoors or outdoors. They must not take bookings for larger groups unless they are from the same household or in a support bubble with a single-person household.
This comes after the Government said venues could receive fines of up to £4,000 for failing to comply with new legal requirements to collect customer contact information.
These rules will be enforced by local authorities and non-compliance runs the risk of fines up to £1,000 with this rising to a maximum of £4,000 for repeat offenders.
What’s more, ‘Covid-secure marshals’ will patrol city and town centres to check up on hospitality venues. While not able to issue fines themselves, they will be responsible for contacting police should they see any breaches of the law.
Bosses have also been told not to prevent staff members from self-isolating or risk a fine.