Britain was ordered into an unprecedented lockdown the UK. All “non-essential” shops were closed, with only food stores, corner shops, hardware stores, chemists, petrol stations and newsagents allowed to remain open.
People will be allowed out once a day to exercise and were warned to go shopping for food as infrequently as possible.
The emergency measures to tackle the spread came into force and will last for three weeks before being reviewed. Announcing the move from No10, Boris Johnson admitted: “No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.
In a sober address, Mr Johnson said: “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.”
He added: “At present there are just no easy options. “The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.”
People will be allowed out to buy vital necessities such as food or collect medication, and the Government wants them to go “as infrequently as possible”.
They can leave the house once a day for exercise such as a run, walk or bike ride – either alone or with someone from their own household. They can also leave for any medical need – for example, treatment or providing care or help to vulnerable people shielding themselves from the virus. Workers who are unable to work from home are allowed to travel – but officials stressed they expected most people to stay at home.
Gatherings of more than two people in public were banned, unless they are members of your own household. Social events, weddings and baptisms were also axed – though funerals can still go ahead. Rule-breakers face being clobbered with on-the-spot fines of £30 from Thursday, though they could be hiked up.
The lockdown will be introduced by a Government regulation under the Public Health Control of Diseases Act 1984. The Prime Minister spent days resisting mounting demands to trigger shutdown.
But pictures of “selfish” tourists packing sunshine spots and people could not be trusted to follow official advice fuelled the decision, which came at a meeting of the Government’s COBRA emergency committee.