British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has ordered a lockdown of the UK for three weeks, telling people they must ‘stay at home’ or face a fine. People will only be able to leave their home for shopping, one form of exercise a day for example a run, walk or cycle, any medical need, to provide care or help a vulnerable person, or to go to work.
Updating the nation following a Cobra meeting with cabinet ministers, he said: ‘You should not be meeting friends. You should not be going shopping [for non essential supplies]. ‘To put it simply, if too many people become unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it. It’s vital to slow the spread of the disease because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time.
It comes as the Foreign Office urged all British people travelling abroad to return home immediately while commercial flights were still available. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said more and more airlines were suspending flights and it would soon become even more difficult to come home.
Also today, MPs had urged the government to go further following images of people gathering in parks and on beaches over the weekend. Mark Pritchard, Tory MP for the the Wrekin, told Matt Hancock: ‘It’s right that people should have exercise – physical, mental health and wellbeing, but social distancing is not being followed by many and whether it be The Wrekin, whether it be in Holland Park or Hyde Park or St James’s Park or in counties around this House today, can I ask what behavioural changes he expects? ‘
Is it not the case that we will have lockdown and isn’t it better to have it today rather than next week?’ Mr Hancock replied: ‘My honourable friend makes an important point and we’re absolutely clear that we’re prepared to take the action that is necessary.’
Yesterday, the prime minister warned that he was prepared to take tougher measures if people didn’t follow advice on social distancing. At his daily press conference, he 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, now as I say I don’t want to do that.’ Earlier today, it was also revealed that Boris Johnson had spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the most effective public health methods to tackle coronavirus. A No 10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister spoke to Chinese President Xi today about the coronavirus pandemic.