UK announces a three-week lockdown to combat COVID-19

The United Kingdom has joined in the footsteps of several other countries in ramping up its COVID-19 preventative measures as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown on Mon night (23 Mar).

Mr Johnson began his televised address with a simple instruction: “I must give the British people a very simple instruction. You must stay at home.”

Exceptions, however, apply to the following activities:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Such trips should be made “as infrequently as possible”;
  • Engaging in “one form of exercise a day” such as running, walking or cycling — alone or only with people living in the same household;
  • Obtaining urgent medical assistance, or providing care for or help to a vulnerable person, including moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable;
  • Key workers or those with vulnerable children sending their children to school; and
  • Commuting between work and home where working at home is not possible.

Stopping the virus from spreading between households is the “critical thing they must do”, stressed Mr Johnson.

“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. Use food delivery services where you can,” he said.

All shops that sell non-essentials including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises like playgrounds, libraries, outdoor gyms and places of worship will be closed.

All social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will not be allowed, except for funerals. Parks will remain open for exercise.

Mr Johnson warned that those who defy the “stay-at-home” order will be subject to police action such as fines and dispersing gatherings.

These measures are also necessary to keep the UK’s health care system, the National Health Service (NHS), from collapsing under pressure, the PM added.

“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,” he said.

The PM’s message came after last Fri’s announcement that all pubs, restaurants and gyms were advised to close down.

A 26-year-old source working in the financial sector in London told TOC via WhatsApp yesterday that public parks in the UK “are full of people and some markets are even open” despite the government’s measures.

She added that the UK’s pattern of COVID-19 spread “is apparently similar to Northern Italy”.

The country has recorded 6,650 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date.

AFP reported that there have been concerns about the virus spreading more quickly in the UK than in Italy, where 6,077 fatalities out of 63,927 declared infections were recorded to date.

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