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Coronavirus: Pubs and restaurants to remain open as government awaits vaccine trials and antibodies kits

PUBLISHED: 18:30 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:30 19 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said trials into a vaccine for the coronavirus are due to begin within a month  Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said trials into a vaccine for the coronavirus are due to begin within a month Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

The prime minister has announced hospitality businesses can remain open as the government looks to begin vaccine trials and buy crucial coronavirus antibodies tests.

Mr Johnson urged businesses to support their employees as government advice for pubs and restaurants remain the same  Picture: RICHARD POHLE/THE TIMES/PAMr Johnson urged businesses to support their employees as government advice for pubs and restaurants remain the same Picture: RICHARD POHLE/THE TIMES/PA

Boris Johnson said the antibodies tests will be a “gamechanger” for the country as the battle against the virus continues, with the first set of trials for a proposed vaccine also set to begin “within a month”.

He also said the government is “getting better” at testing.

Mr Johnson said: “To give you an idea of what is coming down the track, we’re in negotiations today to buy a so-called antibody test, as simple as a pregnancy test which can tell whether you have had the disease and it’s early days, but if it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable.

“Because obviously it has the potential to be a total gamechanger.

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“By the same token we’re massively increasing the testing to see whether you have it now and ramping up daily testing from 5,000 a day, to 10,000 to 25,000 and then up at 250,000.”

It had been rumoured that the government was expected to announce a “lockdown” on London, with people not allowed to leave or enter the city.

Although Mr Johnson said he is aware some in the capital are not following government advice, he said a rumoured “lockdown” on London would not be introduced at this time – but added tougher measures may be introduced across the country should the situation worsen.

Mr Johnson said: “I think, looking at it all, that we can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks and I’m absolutely confident that we can send coronavirus packing in this country.

“But only if we all take the steps that we’ve outlined, that is vital, that’s how we’re going to reduce the peak and once we’ve achieved that and I think that we will, if we take the steps I’ve said, then the scientific progress that we’ve been making will really start coming into play.”

Mr Johnson also urged businesses to stand by their employees, as the government continues to stand by them.

The update comes as the Queen issued a message to the nation which says the UK is “entering a period of great concern and uncertainty”, adding that “our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one”.

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