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The UK has gone into full coronavirus lockdown with the public banned from leaving home for nonessential reasons

Business Insider 2020-03-24 02:03:00

Boris Johnson

The UK will go into full lockdown from this evening with the British public only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or do essential work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the decision on Monday evening after a surge in coronavirus cases suggested that the UK is just two weeks behind the level of outbreak currently being seen in Italy.

"From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home," Johnson said in a televised statement from his Downing Street residence.

The prime minister announced that from Monday evening the British people would only be allowed to leave 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.

In order to ensure that the lockdown is abided by, Johnson also announced that he would close all shops selling "non-essential goods" as well as playgrounds, libraries, and places of worship.

He also announced a ban on gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding those people who live together.

All social gatherings will also be banned, including "weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals."

"You should not be meeting friends," Johnson told the UK.

"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."

Johnson insisted that the country would "come through [this] 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."

The announcement came after multiple reports that the prime minister had been under intense pressure from within his own government to bring forward a full UK lockdown amid surging numbers of cases across the country.

One senior government source told The Times of London that a lockdown was "inevitable."

"The prime minister will have the full support of the Cabinet and the country at large if he goes ahead with this," the source said.

"It is inevitable - you just have to look at other countries. The sooner you do it the better."

The latest data shows that the UK is roughly two weeks behind Italy in terms of its coronavirus death toll, with the rate of increase slightly ahead of where Italy was at this stage.

The UK government's response to the crisis had taken heavy criticism in recent days, with the normally supportive Times newspaper leading with an editorial castigating the prime minister on Monday and comparing his slow response to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Nazi Germany.

BuzzFeed News also reports that Johnson would have faced a "full-scale mutiny" from his own cabinet if he had failed to act.

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