Boris Johnson 'locks down' UK to tackle coronavirus

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Boris Johnson has clamped down on movement in the UK, enforcing stringent curbs on life to

tackle the spread of coronavirus as the death toll increased to 335.

The prime minister said the measures were necessary to tackle "the biggest threat this country has faced for decades".

After days of being accused of sending mixed messages about what the public should do, Johnson escalated his message in his state of the nation address, informing the public that the police will be ordered to impose a strict coronavirus lockdown, with a ban on gatherings of more than two people and strict limits on exercise.

He told the British public: “You must stay at home.”

He said: "People may only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where "absolutely necessary", to shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs."

Shops selling non-essential goods have also been told to shut.

“You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can,” he said.

Hotels, hostels, BnBs, as well as campsites and commercial boarding houses and caravan parks are all expected to close down. However, ministers have said there will be exceptions where people are living in them permanently or while their primary residences are unavailable.

Businesses were ordered to close as part of the measures. Retailers,with a few exceptions, have joined pubs and restaurants in being told to shut their doors, after a weekend during which many people were still out in their numbers, despite government pleas to isolate themselves.

Other premises including libraries, non-essential shops, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship have been ordered to close.

Parks will remain open for exercise but people are not allowed to gather in groups.

Community centres have been given the green light to remain open but only for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services such as food banks or service for homeless people.

Support for more stringent measures

There was widespread support for the measures but there were also calls for greater clarity.

Both the Labour party, which has been calling for such measures, and trade unions largely united behind Boris Johnson as he took the drastic step in what he termed a time of “national emergency”.

Latest figures

The Department of Health and Social Care released its latest figures, showing out of 83,945 tests, 6,650 people have tested positive for Covid-19.

A further 46 people have died in England since Sunday - aged between 47 and 105. All had underlying health conditions - while there were four deaths in Scotland and four in Wales.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britons travelling abroad should return to the UK as soon as possible because international travel is becoming more difficult with the closure of borders and the suspension of flights.

Many people in the most at-risk groups have begun receiving an NHS text urging them to stay at home for 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, the British Olympic Association said Great Britain will not send a team to Tokyo 2020 if the spread of coronavirus continues as predicted.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of the Games, but IOC member Dick Pound said it has already been decided that the tournament will be postponed until 2021.

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