Boris Johnson announces lockdown to battle coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 20:50 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 07:49 24 March 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a stricter set of restrictions in the fight against coronavirus after admitting many have not followed government advice.
Mr Johnson announced the new measures in an address to the nation on Monday night, March 23, in lieu of his usual daily press conference.
As part of the new restrictions, people nationwide are now no longer allowed to leave their homes unless going to the shop for necessities, to exercise once a day, for medical reasons or for key workers to travel to work.
All non-essential shops, places of worship, playgrounds and libraries are also to close immediately.
People have been told not to visit friends and family.
All public gatherings of two people or more excluding those in the same household are now banned – as are weddings and baptisms. Funerals will be allowed to continue.
Those who do not follow the instructions announced will face fines from the police – who now have increased enforcement powers – if they refuse to disperse.
The practicalities of how the measures will be enforced have not yet been explained.
Mr Johnson said the world is now seeing the “devastating effect of the invisible killer”
He said: “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; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses.
“And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.
“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. So 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, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope - and save more lives.”
It is claimed 7,500 former clinicians have rejoined the NHS and the country is “pioneering” a vaccine.
Mr Johnson added every person is now “enlisted” in the fight against the virus.
He said: “Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together, to halt the spread of this disease, to protect our NHS and to save many, many thousands of lives.
“And I know that as they have in the past so many times, the people of this country will rise to that challenge.
“And we will come through it stronger than ever.
“We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.”
The UK is now one of a number of European nations to enforce strict lockdown measures, with Italy and Spain also taking similar actions in recent weeks.
Mr Johnson said the government will review its decision in three weeks.
Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “Everyone in Suffolk must listen and follow this very clear direction from the government. We must now all stay at home unless journeys are absolutely essential. This isn’t about us as individuals. This is about protecting the NHS and saving the lives of our neighbours and loved ones.
“Please, everyone, do what society needs you to do. Our actions today determine the futures of others in the days and weeks to come. It’s as simple as that.”
More than 6,600 people have contracted the virus in the UK, with 22 of those tested positive living in Suffolk. It is widely regarded the true number of cases is much higher.
Sadly, 335 people have lost their lives as of Monday.