Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tonight (March 23) announced ‘national emergency’ measures to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
In a speech to the nation the PM said gatherings of more than two people – excluding those who live together – would be dispersed and people will only be able to go out to exercise alone, shop for essentials, travelling to necessary work that cannot be done at home, travelling to help a vulnerable person and picking up essential medical goods.
Police will have the powers to enforce these rules. There will be fines for flouting the rules.
All non-essential shops will close. All social gatherings, except funerals, will be halted. Parks will remain open for exercise but groups will be dispersed.
The lockdown will be reviewed in three weeks time. The PM said the measures are necessary to ‘slow the spread of the disease.’
He said: “The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.
All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer. From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home. Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.
That is why 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.
“That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home. You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, 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. 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.”
As of 9am today (March 23) 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, 335 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.
In Kent 64 people who have been tested have ben diagnosed positive and 15 in Medway.
In Thanet there have been cases including in Westgate, Birchington Vale, a staff member at Saga and a parent of a Chatham & Clarendon pupil. There are an unconfirmed number of Covid-19 patients at QEQM Hospital.