Boris Johnson to unveil plans for no-go zones as part of efforts to tackle coronavirus
Ministers will be handed powers to set up no-go zones and cancel sporting events as part of a "battle plan" to tackle a major outbreak of coronavirus.
Boris Johnson will unveil the draconian measures in Downing Street as the Government steps up its response to the crisis.
Volunteers will also be recruited to the NHS to help hard-pressed hospital staff cope with a rise in the number of patients, while employees will also be orged to work from home to halt the spread of the disease.
The moves will be contained in an emergency bill which the Government wants to be on the statute books by the end of March, by which time it is expected the virus will be widespread throughout the UK.
Cabinet ministers, as well as the heads of the devolved governments, signed off the battle plan at a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee on Monday.
Government officials later admitted it will be "months rather than weeks" before the outbreak peaks.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being forced to re-write his Budget as a result of the expected economic damage which will be caused by efforts to halt the spread of the illness.
The Prime Minister, who will unveil the battle plan alongside chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, said: "It is highly likely coronavirus will spread more widely in the coming days and weeks, which is why we’re making every possible preparation.
"We have agreed a plan, which I will set out in detail today, so if the virus should spread, we are ready to take necessary steps to contain it and protect the most vulnerable.
"But we can all continue to do our bit to fight this virus - by washing our hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice."
Mr Sunak said: "The whole of government is working closely together to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
"We understand that people across the country are worried, but I assure you that we are taking firm action to support your families, your businesses and the public services on which you rely.
"We are well prepared for this global threat and, as the wider economic picture becomes clearer, we stand ready to announce further support where needed."
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