The ‘hospitality circuit breaker’, which includes restaurants and hotels, was announced by the island’s chief minister, John Le Fondre, yesterday evening.
Hospital visits are not allowed, gyms must close and there can be no playing of indoor sports.
It is a far more significant tightening of restrictions than those announced on Monday evening, when compulsory mask wearing in enclosed public places was introduced along with the instruction to work from home if possible.
Senator Le Fondre said the huge surge in cases – there were 331 active ones yesterday evening – was a real and immediate risk to the island’s health service.
He expected that total to continue to rise in the days ahead.
There are eight people in hospital with Covid-19 and one in a care home.
The senator said that the Nightingale Wing, the temporary hospital erected on a playing field, was ready to be used at 24 hours’ notice.
As well as the restrictions on the hospitality trade, shops can open only if they can achieve two-metre social distancing, which will be the norm instead of a metre from tomorrow.
‘Our island stands at a crossroads,’ said Senator Le Fondre, who denied that Christmas was cancelled, but said it would be different.
‘The next few weeks will not be easy,’ he said.
The increase in cases started on 20 November and is attributed to multiple clusters.
The senator said the R number, the rate at which people are infected, was between 1.6 and 2, with case numbers doubling every 13 days unless action is taken, which would mean 1,100 infections by Boxing Day with 12,000 in isolation.
Although deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat painted a slightly different picture, saying there would be 560 cases by Boxing Day.