The U.K. will go into lockdown from Monday night after Boris Johnson ordered sweeping measures to stop people leaving their homes “at this moment of national emergency.”
UK goes into lockdown as WHO warns global spread of virus is accelerating.
UK citizens are now being ordered to stay in their homes in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. He says 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
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".
What do the new restrictions involve?
In brief: an Italian-style lockdown to force people to stay at home beyond a small range of very limited circumstances. Under the terms explained by Boris Johnson in his TV address, people will only be allowed to leave home for the following reasons:
• Shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible.
• One form of exercise a day, such as running or cycling, alone or with household members.
• For medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person.
• Travelling to and from work, but only if you cannot work from home.
It will be banned to meet friends, or to shop for anything beyond essentials, or to gathering in crowds.
What enforcement action will there be?
Police will be able to enforce the rules, and impose fines for people who do not abide by them. Authorities will force the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, as well as all libraries, outdoor gyms and playgrounds, and churches or other places of worship. All public gatherings of more than two people will be banned, apart from if people live together. Also prohibited are all social events such as weddings and baptisms, although funerals will be permitted to take place.
How long will it last for?
At least three weeks. Johnson said that after that point, the government would relax the rules “if the evidence shows we are able to” – but this is by no means certain.
What is this meant to do?
The hope is to severely limit the scale of physical and social interaction, and thus slow the spread of the coronavirus so the growth in cases does not overwhelm the NHS, and lead to mass deaths. As Johnson put it: “Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope.”
Will it work?
This remains to be seen – and given the time lag between infections and people becoming critically ill, it will be up to two weeks before any benefits are realised. On Monday, Italy recorded a slight reduction in the number of coronavirus deaths two weeks after it introduced a national lockdown. So the UK can expect an exponential growth in infections and deaths first, before – hopefully – the curve flattens.
What has been the situation up till now?
There has been a gradual increase in restrictions, going from ministers urging people to work from home if possible and avoid pubs and other crowded places, to schools and nurseries being closed, and then on Friday the forced closure of pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms and other communal businesses. However, the information on social distancing has thus far been couched in terms of advice, with Johnson stressing the desire of people to be out of doors.