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UK announces 3-week nationwide lockdown, threatens fines for violating, over coronavirus

Boris Johnson. (Chatham House/Flickr)
March 23, 2020

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict nationwide lockdown on Monday to curb the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown will last a minimum of three weeks and violators could be punished with fines.

“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home,” Johnson said in a televised address. “Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.”

Johnson said people will only be able to leave their homes for essential travel, such as shopping for necessities, exercising once a day, medical needs, and travel to and from work if work cannot be done remotely.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings,” Johnson warned.

“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,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that people should not be leaving their homes to meet with friends or family and should not be taking leisurely shopping trips.

Additionally, Johnson said all stores selling “non-essential goods” will be ordered closed immediately, along with libraries, playgrounds and gyms, and places of worship.  All gatherings of more than two people must also be stopped, he added.

Law enforcement will be dispersing any crowds and halting social events such as weddings and other ceremonies.

“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledged the harm that such a measure has to businesses, people’s jobs and lives, and vowed to help the public through new support programs.