UK coronavirus lockdown explained – draconian new restrictions in full

Boris Johnson has announced a historic clampdown on public gatherings in a major escalation of the UK's fight against the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister told all Brits to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres, work from home where at all possible, and avoid all unnecessary travel in the most extreme measures to be unveiled in peacetime in living memory.

If anyone in your household develops a new continuous cough or high temperature, you must now all self-isolate in your home for 14 days.

Mass gatherings are being abandoned from tomorrow, and from this weekend, those with underlying health conditions will be asked to shield themselves from social contact for three months.

But schools will still remain open – for now – despite the lockdown elsewhere.


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It came as cases in the UK rose by 171 to 1,543 overnight with stock markets plunging and the aviation industry in disarray.

It is not currently suggested that today's drastic measures will be enforced by the authorities. At this stage, the government is asking for voluntary compliance.

Boris Johnson said Britain was a "mature democracy" that could avoid that sort of action. But he didn't rule it out. He said: "We have the powers if necessary, but I don't believe it will be necessary to use those powers."

Boris Johnson said "it looks as though we’re now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve – and without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days."

The PM, who was slammed for not acting quickly enough, admitted he had been “comparing notes” with leaders around the world who were acting faster.

But he insisted he was "leading a growing global campaign" to "fight back against this disease, to keep the economy growing, to ensure humanity has access to the drugs and treatments we all need."

He added: “I know we are today asking a lot of everybody. This is far more now than just washing your hands, though clearly washing your hands remains important.”

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: "We should not be under any illusions that if we just do this for a couple of weeks, that is sufficient. This is going to have to be a prolonged period."

He added: "The next few weeks and months are going to be extraordinary difficult for the NHS in all four nations."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons: "We are in a war against an invisible killer and we've got to do everything we can to stop it."

Here are the measures announced today in full.

Advice for everyone in the UK

Everyone must avoid pubs, clubs and theatres

Boris Johnson announced: "Now is the time for everyone to stop non essential contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel.

"We need people to start working from home where they possibly can and you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues."

Everyone must work from home where possible

See above.

Those who have to be in work in person, and are not showing symptoms, have been advised to continue going to work.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "If you are healthy and you're not being asked to isolate… then you should still go to work. It’s important this country keeps moving as much as we possibly can."

Wider guidance for employers is here.

Everyone must avoid 'unnecessary' travel, including within the UK

See above.

It is understood this means all travel that is not strictly necessary, including breaks or visits within the UK.

Advice for specific groups

The advice above applies particularly to the over-70s and those with underlying health conditions

Boris Johnson said the above “very draconian” advice – i.e., avoid crowded places and travel – applies particularly to people over 70, pregnant women (see below), and those with some health conditions.

“We are asking people to do something that is difficult and disruptive of their lives,” he said.

“And the right moment, as we’ve always said, is to do it when it’s most effective. When we think it can make the biggest difference to slowing the spread of the disease, reducing the number of victims, reducing the number of fatalities.”

Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty said underlying health conditions are defined as any reason that would mean you're advised to have a flu vaccinations. "People with chronic diseases such as chronic heart disease or chronic kidney disease," he explained.

It also applies particularly to women over six months pregnant

For the first time the government has also singled out pregnant women in their third trimester, telling them to take the above advice "particularly seriously".

This is not because a particular risk to pregnant women has been identified – it hasn't, yet. But the Chief Medical Officer said it's too early to rule that out.

Prof Chris Whitty said it applied to women in their third trimester.

He added: "For many infectious diseases, there is a small but appreciable additional risk and we will not know that until a lot more children, we do not know for sure we can say reliably this is safe or there is some additional risk.

"It may in retrospect find that was overkill but we'd rather be more cautionary now rather than the other way."


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What do the government mean by 'applies particularly'?

The advice is not different for over-70s, those with health conditions and the pregnant (despite reports the over-70s would be told to isolate themselves for four months) than what it now is to the entire country.

However, this group of people are being told to take the advice that's being given to everyone, and treat it "particularly seriously."

Prof Chris Whitty said: "Those are the groups we want to take particular care to minimise their social contact which of course will have very significant risks for them."

And Londoners must be on their guard the most

Boris Johnson said: "It is now clear that the peak of the epidemic is coming faster in some parts of the country than in others.

"And it looks as though London is now a few weeks ahead.

"It’s important that Londoners now pay special attention to what we’re saying about avoiding non essential contact.

"And to take particularly seriously the advice about working from home and avoiding confined spaces such as pubs and restaurants."

If you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you must all self-isolate for 14 days

Previous advice was if you had either a high temperature, or a new and continuous cough, or both, you had to self-isolate for seven days.

Now, if you live with other people, this advice applies to your entire household – and you must self-isolate for 14 days, not seven, because the infection will ping around your household over a fortnight.

If you live in a household with someone who gets the virus, you are "highly likely" to get it too, the government has said.

Boris Johnson said: “If you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms then you should stay at home for 14 days.

“That means if possible you should not go out, even to buy food and essentials, other than for exercise and in that case, at a safe distance from others.

“If necessary you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities.

“If that is not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.”

From this weekend, people who have certain serious health conditions will be told to isolate themselves for 12 weeks. These people will be contacted by the NHS

This weekend, the advice will go much, much further for people with certain serious health conditions.

This group of people will be told to “largely shield” themselves from social contact for 12 weeks, starting this weekend, the Prime Minister said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said those identified as needing this extra protection will be contacted by the NHS.

He added the precise wording of who falls into what category will be published on the government website.

This special group of people includes both people over and under 70. The criteria isn't that you're elderly – it's that you have an underlying disease.

That also means that leaked plans to keep all over-70s in their homes for four months turned out not to be fully correct (yet). Instead, this specific advice does not apply to everyone over 70, only those who have serious conditions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons: "The measures on shielding are specifically for those who have significant health conditions and will be contacted by the NHS.

"They are not for the generality of over-70s who are healthy, for whom the guidance is the same as for people of working age except that we strongly advise, as oppose to advising."

Wider measures and school closures

Mass gatherings are being called off

Mr Johnson said that from Tuesday mass gatherings are something "we are now moving emphatically away from".

The detail was unclear at first, but it essentially meant the government would not support mass gatherings – for instance by providing the support of the emergency services.

We will be adding to this section when more information becomes available.

And people shouldn't be visiting care homes if at all possible

Boris Johnson said: "When it comes to care homes and visitors to care homes, you can take it from what we've just said about avoiding all unnecessary contact for those groups – the over-70s, those with particular health conditions – absolutely, we don't want to see people unnecessarily visiting care homes."

Fuller guidance for care homes and those with at-home care is here.


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But school closures aren't happening yet

"It may be necessary to think about things like school closures" but they have to be done at the right time, Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance said.

Boris Johnson said: "There is an argument about school closures.

"We think at the moment on balance it's much better if we can keep schools open, for all sorts of reasons. But I appreciate again that this is something we need to keep under review."

Downing Street has not ruled out mass school closures before the Easter break. But for now, schools are only being told to close individually if needed by Public Health England.

Any child with a cough should also be sent home.

Part of the government's reasoning is thought to be about key workers. NHS staff may have to take time off work to look after their children, if schools shut and grandparents are unable to care for them.

The full government guidance on schools is here.


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There will be help for businesses, but it's not entirely spelt out yet

Businesses that face going to the wall will be given help, Boris Johnson said.

"It's perfectly obvious, everybody sees this is going to be potentially a severe blow for the economy," Boris Johnson said. But he added: "This is unlike 2008 – there isn't a systemic problem within the economy."

The details of this help, apart from being able to delay tax bills, isn't 100% clear yet.

"We're going to make sure that we do everything we can to give them the liquidity that they need, make sure that they have the time to pay (tax bills), but also make sure that our whole fiscal policy … (gives) business the space in which they can come back from this," he said.

Other areas

The government has also provided advice on hostels and day care centres; on shipping and sea ports; on staff in the transport sector. Separate changes were made last week to sick pay and benefits.

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