Boris Johnson has stunned millions of Britons with a momentous and tough lockdown announcement to tackle coronavirus: stay at home or face a fine.
In a dramatic and historic TV address to the nation, the prime minister said all shops apart from food stores and chemists must close immediately, meeting friends will be banned – but one form of exercise a day will be allowed.
The lockdown, which will be in force for at least three weeks, follows growing pressure in recent days from the government’s top medical advisers and senior politicians for a lockdown.
Announcing powers not seen since wartime, Mr Johnson declared: 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.
People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home
He added: That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.
You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no.
You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.
You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.
If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
Mr Johnson added that these measures will come into force immediately:
- Closing all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with
- Stopping all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals