British Prime Minister: You must stay at home or risk being fined

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposes curbs on everyday life in a bid to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Ben Ariel ,

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered citizens to stay at home to halt the spread of coronavirus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.

In a televised address to the nation, Johnson announced that all but essential shops will close and people should no longer meet family or friends or risk being fined.

Johnson had resisted pressure to impose a full lockdown even as other European countries had done so, but was forced to do so as projections showed the health system could become overwhelmed.

Deaths from the virus in Britain jumped 54 to 335 on Monday as the government said the military would help ship millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks to healthcare workers who have complained of shortages.

"From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home," Johnson said, according to Reuters.

They would only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for basic necessities, exercise, for a medical need, to provide care or travelling to and from work where absolutely necessary.

"That’s all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home," said Johnson, adding that people should not meet friends or family members who do not live in their home.

"If you don´t follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings," he warned.

The new measures would be reviewed in three weeks and relaxed if possible.

The government will close all shops selling non-essential goods, Johnson said, including clothing stores, as well as other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.

Under the new measures, the government will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public who do not live together, and stop all social events, including weddings and baptisms but not funerals.

Parks would remain open for exercise but gatherings would be dispersed, Johnson said.

"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 warned in his address.

Monday’s moves come three days after Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors in a bid to slow down the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, announced that the United Synagogue would be shutting down and ending all services in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus has also hit the British Parliament, where Nadine Dorries, a minister in the health department, announced earlier this month that she had tested positive for the virus.