Boris Johnson places UK on immediate lockdown with police fines for ignoring new measures

Boris Johnson has placed the UK on lockdown to tackle the coronavirus, threatening police fines for anyone who ignores new measures including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.

The Prime Minister detailed a short list of reasons why individuals can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials items on Monday evening.He ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities “as infrequently as possible” and to perform one form of exercise a day.

Or they could seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if “absolutely necessary”, he said in a televised address from within Downing Street.

“That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home,” he said.

“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.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

To ensure people follow the rules, Mr Johnson ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing.

All public gatherings of more than two people – other than those they live with – will be barred, the PM said.

Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be “under constant review” and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks’ time if the evidence allows.

He said that “no prime minister wants to enact measures like this” as he reminded the public of the support programme to aid ailing businesses and struggling individuals.

But he said the drastic new measures allowing people to only leave home for the “very limited purposes” were necessary to slow the spread of the disease.

“To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,” he added.

Mr Johnson had been facing widespread calls to impose tough restrictions on the nation amid concerns people are ignoring social distancing advice.

His call came after the UK death toll hit 335 and British citizens travelling abroad were told to return home “while you still can”.

Online supermarkets immediately appeared to buckle under the strain after the announcement with crashes occurring on the Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda websites.

Politicians across the spectrum, including those who had been highly-critical of the PM’s response so far, welcomed the tough new measures.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was the “right response”, but called for clearer guidance.

“There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close – and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders,” he said.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the measures that “amount to a lockdown” were “essential for the protection of all of us”.

Forty-six more people died in England alongside four in Scotland and four in Wales, taking the number who have died in British hospitals after testing positive to 335. Those who have died in England range in age from 18 to 105.

In an earlier escalation of advice, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told citizens travelling overseas to return to the UK using commercial routes that are still running.

“If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can,” he said.

Foreign Office staff were working to help citizens get back where routes have been halted due to the growing crisis.

Meanwhile, MPs were debating emergency legislation that could see airports shut and police having the powers to force people with virus symptoms to isolate.

Over the weekend, crowds of people were witnessed visiting open spaces across many parts of the UK, at times flouting official social distancing advice.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier called those who disregarded the advice “very selfish”, as he insisted all major hospitals had received deliveries of essential personal protective equipment.

The severe measures came as Wendy Jacobs, a head teacher at Roose Primary School in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, died after testing positive for coronavirus.

In Walsall, a 36-year-old nurse and mother-of-three was on a ventilator in intensive care after contracting coronavirus.

Areema Nasreen was in a critical condition at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands, where she works.

There were growing fears that Britain is on a similar trajectory to Italy – scene of the world’s worst outbreak – where the death toll passed 5,000 over the weekend.

The Italian government was one of a number of European countries to announce new or extended restrictions – with Germany banning public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household.

Boris Johnson’s address to the nation in full

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined new restrictions on people leaving their homes to help slow the spread of coronavirus as he gave an address to the nation from No10 on Monday evening.

Here is his statement in full:

Good Evening,

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease.

Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope – and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.

Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

– shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible

– one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;

– any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and

– travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

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. And use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

– close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;

– we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;

– and we’ll stop all social events , including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7,500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment.

We are accelerating our search for treatments.

We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted.

Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together, to halt the spread of this disease, to protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times, the people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever.

We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Thank you.

Picture (c) PA Wire.

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