THE Prime Minister has announced further restrictions will come into effect to tackle the recent rise in coronavirus cases – and they could remain for six months.

Boris Johnson, making a statement to MPs, said the Government must 'act now to avoid still graver consequences later on'.

He confirmed the 10pm curfew from Thursday for bars, restaurants and pubs – where business will be restricted to table service only – as well as the new message that people should work from home if they can.

Face masks will also become compulsory for staff and customers in bars, restaurants, shops and taxis, with fines to be issued for people who flout the rules, and the rule of six will be extended to cover indoor sports.

Mr Johnson also confirmed that from Monday, a maximum of 15 people can attend weddings, but up to 30 can still attend funerals.

He said a month ago an average of around 1,000 people across the UK were testing positive for Covid-19 every day, adding the latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929.

Mr Johnson said: "We always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real and I'm sorry to say that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we've reached a perilous turning point."

The Prime Minister added that these new restrictions in England are 'carefully judged to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number with the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods'.

Mr Johnson told MPs: "I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We're not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.

"We will ensure that schools, colleges, universities stay open because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people.

"We will ensure businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way. However we must take action to suppress the disease."

He added that the coronavirus is now 'a fact of our lives' and warned MPs to expect the new restrictions to be in place for six months to avoid complacency.

Mr Johnson said: “If all our actions fail to bring the R below 1 then we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.

“I thoroughly want to avoid taking this step, as do the devolved administrations, but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.

“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.”