Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tonight ordered that the UK go into much stricter lockdown in the fight against coronavirus.
In his address to the nation at 8.30pm, he declared the drastic measures were necessary to slow down the spread of the killer bug.
This will also see the closure of all shops aside from supermarkets, food stores and pharmacies.
In addition, playgrounds, churches and libraries will also shut down.
All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies have been halted. Funerals are to be limited to close family only.
“Stay at home”
Boris issued one simple instruction: “You must stay at home.”
He explained that if “too many people become seriously unwell at one time the NHS will not be able to cope – it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease to protect the NHS’s ability to cope and save more lives”.
We are now only allowed to leave home for four reasons, he warned.
“Shopping, one hour of exercise a day, any medical need or to provide care to elderly and, travel to and from work where absolutely necessary,” he added.
“These are the only reasons you should be leaving home.”
It follows news that the death toll in England has reached 335, with 55 people dying from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The number of deaths has risen to 14 in Scotland, with 16 deaths in Wales.
Meanwhile, supermarkets may be forced to disclose how much food supply they have to the government, under the Coronavirus Bill.
The new laws, debated by MPs today, will provide ‘powers to require information about food supply chains’.
Read more: Eight early signs you could have coronavirus
Suppliers could face significant fines if they don’t comply.
A House of Commons briefing paper states: “While Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] ‘anticipates ongoing collaboration on a voluntary basis between Government and industry’, the explanatory notes to the Bill state that it is ‘right and proper’ to plan for a scenario in which voluntary requests for information were not complied with, ‘in order to ensure Government has the necessary information to build a clear understanding of the situation, make informed judgements and respond effectively’.
NHS text warnings
Today citizens in the most at-risk groups have begun receiving an NHS text urging them to stay at home for 12 weeks.
The message reads: “Please remain at home for a minimum of 12 weeks. Home is the safest place for you. Staying in helps you stay well and that will help the NHS too.”
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