London has tightened restrictions after coronavirus cases skyrocketed across the UK capital, the government has confirmed.
The new measures, set to come into effect from 00.01 on Saturday morning, will ban different households from gathering indoors and will advise against the use of public transport.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to stay open, but households cannot mix and establishments will need to stick to a 10 pm curfew.
Meetings in private gardens and other outdoor spaces will also be limited to groups of six people – a measure dubbed the “rule of six” in the UK.
Confirming the changes, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the situation remained “grave and serious” as COVID-19 continued to “spread exponentially” across the UK.
He said cases in the capital – a city of 9 million people – had been doubling every ten days and had prompted “vital” rules to be put in place.
“We make these decisions with a heavy heart,” Hancock said, warning that things would “get worse before they get better”.
Urging Londoners to “work together”, he added: “We all need to play our part in getting the virus under control once again”.
Earlier on Thursday, London mayor Sadiq Khan said he understood new measures were unwanted, but stressed they were necessary to stop transmission.
He told the London Assembly: “Nobody wants to see more restrictions – but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londonders’ lives by myself, London council leaders and by ministers.”