Boris Johnson announces three-week UK lockdown to combat coronavirus
"The biggest threat this country has faced for decades."
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced new restrictions on the movement of residents, effectively amounting to a full three-week lockdown.
Johnson announced the measures in an address on Monday night (20 March).
"The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades and this country is not alone," he began.
"All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer and so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we're taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help."
Under the new restrictions, UK residents may only leave their homes for:
- Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise per day alone or with household members
- Any medical need to provide care for a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work but only where strictly necessary
In his address, Johnson pointed to the potential overwhelming of the UK's National Health Service, noting that "if too many people become seriously unwell at one time the NHS will be unable to handle it, meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well".
The UK PM underlined "a very simple instruction" by repeating:
"You must stay at home."
Johnson said that people should not be meeting friends or family members who do not live in their home and to use delivery services where possible.
"If you don't follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them including through fines and dispersing gatherings," he added.
"To ensure compliance with the government's instruction to stay at home we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms and places of worship.
"We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public excluding people you live with and we will stop all social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals.
"Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed."
Johnson said that no Prime Minister wishes to enact measures such as these and that he understands the damage that they will have on people's lives before announcing an "unprecedented" support package for workers and businesses.
"I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review," he added. "We will look again in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to. But at present there are just no easy options."
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) March 23, 2020