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Sun, 5 April 2020

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AT-A-GLANCE: The draconian new curbs announced by Boris Johnson as Britain battles the coronavirus

AT-A-GLANCE: The draconian new curbs announced by Boris Johnson as Britain battles the coronavirus

Gatherings of more than two people will be banned under the tough new measures.

4 min read

Boris Johnson has moved to impose the most drastic lockdown of the country since the Second World War. Here's everything the Government has announced.


Boris Johnson's latest statement takes the strategy of social distancing - reducing day-to-day contact with other people - to tackle coronavirus to the next level. 

And they focus on three areas: ordering people to stay at home, with some limited exceptions; shutting all "non-essential shops" and community spaces; and banning all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Crucially, after Brits flocked to parks and holiday homes over the weekend, these new measures come with teeth - although a host of questions remain about how they will be practically enforced.

As the Government says: "Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings."

Anyone breaking the rules can be fined at least £30 - while those who have been asked to self-isolate will have to pay up to £1,000 if they do not comply. 

STAYING AT HOME

In his televised address on Monday night, Boris Johnson said he was giving the country "a very simple instruction - you must stay at home".

But there will be four exceptions to that rule, the Prime Minister said.

People should only leave the house if they are shopping for "basic necessities" such as food or medicine, although the Government is clear that these trips should be as "infrequent as possible".

Trips out for exercise are permitted, but this is limited to "one form of exercise a day", with the Government listening a "run, walk, or cycle". Crucially, however, this should only be done "alone or with members of your household".

Trips out are also permitted for those who need to address a "medical need" or for those who are required to provide care and support to a vulnerable person.

Finally, the Government has said it will allow travelling "to and from work" - but has stated this should only be the case "where this absolutely cannot be done from home".

Its official guidance warns: "These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household."

CLOSING SHOPS AND PUBLIC SPACES

On Friday Mr Johnson moved to tell pubs, cafes, cinemas and theatres to close their doors. 

But the Government has now gone further, ordering the closure of all "non-essential" retail stores.

The Government lists the following outlets as "non-essential": clothing and electronics stores, hair, beauty and nail salons, outdoor and indoor markets (apart from food markets), libraries, community centres, and youth centres. 

Retailer Sports Direct has already caused a storm by suggesting its provision of exercise equipment makes it "essential" under the Government's definition.

As well as shuttering shops, the Government is ordering the closure of all "indoor and outdoor leisure facilities", with bowling alleys, arcades and soft play areas all told to shut up shop.

Communal areas of parks, including playgrounds and outdoor gyms, have also been ordered to close, while all places of worship will be shut, expect for funerals "attended by immediate families".

After the Government told city-living Brits to stay away from holiday homes to avoid putting a strain on local services, it has now moved to shut all "hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use". 

STOPPING PUBLIC GATHERINGS

In a move that echoes Germany's strategy to limit the spread of Covid-19, the Government has also moved to ban "all public gatherings of more than two people" - again, with some limited exceptions.

Ministers say they will allow gatherings of "a group of people who live together", citing the example of a parent who needs to take their children to the shops because there is no childcare available.

Gatherings that are "essential for work purposes" are also permitted, but the Government says all staff should be trying to curb meetings and gatherings in the workplace wherever possible.

In a major blow for anyone hoping to tie the knot soon, the Government has also announced a blanket ban on weddings, as well as baptisms and other religious ceremonies.

"This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family," its guidance reiterates.

HOW LONG WILL THE CURBS LAST?

Boris Johnson told the country on Monday night: “We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.”

But ministers have already been advised that social distancing measures will need to be in place for "at least half of the year" - with alternating periods of tougher and less stringent curbs imposed - in order to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed.

That means Britain should brace itself for a huge change to life as we know it for the foreseeable future.

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