Britain has been told to stay at home as the Prime Minister announced a coronavirus lockdown this evening (Monday 23 March).
Boris Johnson said that, from tonight, people would be allowed to leave their homes for only “very limited purposes”.
These are shopping for basic necessities, taking one form of exercise a day, going out for medical need and travelling to and from work if “absolutely necessary”.
His announcement came as MPs debated emergency measures in a Coronavirus Bill which is expected to become law by the end of the week.
During the Coronavirus Bill debate, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “I mean this in a constructive way but it does feel as though we are constantly behind the curve.
“We are always waiting for people not to do what we have asked them to do before we then step in and introduce more strict communications.
“So I beg him (the Health Secretary Matt Hancock) will he underpin this legislation and everything else the government are doing with a much bigger, wider, louder and more comprehensive public education campaign because right now the message clearly is not getting through?
“Anyone who was looking at the coverage over the weekend of people gathering in Richmond Park and elsewhere will know that it is not being heard.
“We need to be doing an awful lot more to be able to catch up and get ahead of this.”
She also said that the opposition were taking “the issue of communication more seriously” than the government, adding: “We need leaflets going house to house – and we need them in different languages so that different communities can hear this.
“The … point about a strict lockdown is well made but I echo what others have said about the importance of guaranteeing economic security to make it much more possible for people to cope with that lockdown, particularly the self-employed, who are now struggling so much.
“Statutory sick pay is not enough for them.”
Public Health England said earlier: “As of 9am on 23 March 2020, a total of 83,945 people have been tested, of which 77,295 were confirmed negative and 6,650 were confirmed positive.
“As of 1pm on 23 March 2020, 335 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (covid-19) have died.”
The number of coronavirus cases in Brighton and Hove since the start of outbreak currently totals 17, with 11 confirmed in East Sussex and 28 in West Sussex.
Boris Johnson said tonight: “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 and
- travelling to and from work but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home
“You should not be meeting friends. 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.
“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
“To ensure compliance with the government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately
- close all shops selling non-essential goods including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms and places of worship
- we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with
- and we’ll stop all social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals
“Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.”
The Prime Minister also said: “We will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.
“But 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.
“And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.
“Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7,500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.
“With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment. We are accelerating our search for treatments. We are pioneering work on a vaccine.
“And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.”
He also said that the police would enforce the rules, for example, dispersing gatherings if necessary.
But some police representatives said that they were being placed in a very difficult position and risked losing the goodwill of the public because the rules were still not clear enough.