The UK has effectively entered a three week lockdown period, following a speech made by Prime Minister Boris Johnsons on Monday evening.
Although Mr Johnson didn’t use the word “lockdown”, there was a significant increase on the measures and action taken by the government to keep the number of people out and about to a minimum.
The Prime Minister told the country it must stay at home unless, with the only exceptions being one form of exercise a day, to shop for essential items, to care for a vulnerable individual and to travel to work only where “absolutely necessary”.
As the number of deaths rose to 335 on Monday, Mr Johnson said it was a “moment of national emergency” and stressed that this is “the biggest threat this country has faced for decades”.
He announced that the police will have the power to disperse gatherings through fines.
“To put it simply, 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 Prime Minister added.
The measures have been introduced after the weekend saw swathes of people visit outdoor attractions in huge numbers. Snowdonia National Park in North Wales reported its “busiest ever visitor day in history” on Saturday.
The new measures
- “Non-essential goods” shops will close immediately. This includes fashion and electronics stores, but online stores can remain open
- Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post-offices will remain open
- Public parks will remain open to allow people to exercise, but playgrounds, outdoor gyms will close
- Libraries, places of worship will also close, with weddings and baptisms banned. Funerals will be allowed
- Gatherings of more than two people will be banned, aside from families exercising together
- Construction sites can remain open, but only if social distancing measures are adhered to
- Hotels, hostels and caravan parks may only remain open to house key workers
- Community centres can stay open for essential public services such as foodbanks