Boris Johnson threatens lockdown 'in the next 24 hours' unless public stop ignoring coronavirus advice
Boris Johnson has said he is prepared to order a UK-wide lockdown unless people start following strict measure designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Prime Minister issued the warning after a weekend in which huge crowds continued to flock to parks and beaches across the country, despite health officials urging people to stay indoors.
It came after Mr Johnson ordered the closure of pubs, clubs, cafes, cinemas, theatres, gyms and leisure centres in an attempt to discourage large gatherings.
The PM said having access to open spaces was "crucial for health and mental and physical wellbeing" during the crisis.
But he said that a decision on introducing a full lockdown - effectively banning people from leaving their homes unless absolutely essential - would be taken "in the next 24 hours" if the rules continued to be broken.
Speaking as the coronavirus death toll in the UK rose to 281, Mr Johnson said: "In view of the way people have responded over the last few days to the measures we have set out I want to say a bit more about how we interact outdoors.
"Of course I want people to be able to go to the parks and open spaces and to enjoy themselves - it is crucial for health and mental and physical wellbeing.
"But please follow the advice and don’t think that fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity.
"You have to stay two metres apart; you have to follow the social distancing advice. And even if you think you are personally invulnerable, there are plenty of people you can infect and whose lives will then be put at risk.
"And I say this now – on Sunday evening - take this advice seriously, follow it, because it is absolutely crucial.
"And as I have said throughout this process we will keep the implementation of these measures under constant review and, yes of course, we will bring forward further measures if we think that is necessary."
Asked what those might be, the PM said: "I don’t think you need to use your imagination very much to see where we might have to go, and we will think about this very very actively in the next 24 hours.
“We need to think about the kind of measures we’ve seen elsewhere – other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people’s movements altogether."
Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government would now try to "shield" 1.5 million high-risk people from the disease.
The Government will write to each of them urging them to remain indoors at all times, with the Army even being called in to help deliver the essential supplies.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe