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Boris Johnson announces full UK lockdown in bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus

Boris Johnson announces full UK lockdown in bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus
4 min read

The UK is to go into full lockdown in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson has declared.

The Prime Minister said the drastic measure was needed because people were continuing to ignore the official advice to stay at home and not congregate in crowds.

Under the measures, people will only be able to leave their homes to shop for "basic necessities, as infrequently as possible", Mr Johnson said in a TV address to the nation from 10 Downing Street.

One form of exercise a day will be allowed either alone or with family members.

The only other occasions when someone can leave their home will be for "medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person", the PM said, or to travel to and from work "where this is absolutely necessary".

All shops selling non-essential items will also close, as will libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open, but police will have the power to disperse groups of more than two people.

Officers will also have the power to issue fines to anyone who flouts the strict rules.

Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will also be banned, although funerals will still go ahead.

Mr Johnson said the measures - which are similar to those already in place in countries across Europe - were needed to stop the NHS buckling under the strain.

He said: "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."

The Prime Minister said the measures will be reviewed in three weeks' time, and may be relaxed if it is judged appropriate.

But he went on: "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 7500 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."

Mr Johnson paid tribute to those "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," he said.

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

"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."

Responding to the announcement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister is right to call for people to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

"This is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, and one we have been calling for.

"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.

"We welcome these moves and will be working to ensure everybody has the protection and security they need.”

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