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Strict limits on movement

Boris bans public meetings of more than two people

Boris Johnson addressing nation

Boris Johnson addressing the nation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered everyone in Britain to stay at home and said that gatherings of more than two people will be banned as part of severe new curbs on life in Britain.

From Monday evening people can only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities, daily exercise, any medical need and travelling to and from essential work.

Shops selling non-essential goods will also be closed and group gatherings in public prohibited. Gyms, playgrounds, car showrooms, beauty salons and libraries will be closed. Weddings and baptisms are banned; funerals will be allowed. Supermarkets, pharmacists and corner shops can stay open.

“The time has now come for us all to do more,” Mr Johnson said in a televised address.

“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 government’s Cobra emergency committee met at 5pm and signed off the new restrictions which are similar to those already been imposed elsewhere in Europe.

The new restrictions, which will last for three weeks, come into effect as the UK death toll from the coronavirus has reached 335 and as a response to people not abiding by advice not to gather in public places.

Lives depend on all of us complying with these requirements

– Nicola Sturgeon

The police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

However, there was confusion among workers over who would be allowed to go to their work and what was meant by essential roles.

Some employees, including those in the food and drink sector, expressed frustration that that there was no clarity. Many self-employed people have continued to work as they have had no guarantees over their income.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, repeated the message.

“Lives depend on all of us complying with these requirements,” she said, though she chose to make her statement at a press conference with journalists rather than from a room with only a TV crew present, or via a conference call.

Catherine Calderwood, chief medical officer for Scotland, said: “This is no longer a rehearsal for something that might happen.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP, leader of the Labour Party,  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.

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn: right response

“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.”

Travellers ordered home

Earlier, all British tourists and business travellers who are still abroad were told to come home immediately.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued the advise as airlines cease flights around the globe.

Mr Raab said tonight: ‘We are strongly urging UK travellers overseas to return home now where and while there are still commercial routes to do so. 

“Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice. 

“Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals.

“If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can.”

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