Boris Johnson is ordering British citizens to stay home. The U.K. Prime Minister delivered an address from Downing Street on Monday night in which he announced that the country would be on full lockdown in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, according to BuzzFeed News.
“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home,” Johnson said in his address.
The order authorizes British police to fine people who have left their homes for any nonessential reason. It also closes all shops selling nonessential goods and bans weddings and all gatherings of two or more people in public. In addition to shops, the order also closes other premises, including libraries and playgrounds.
“You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no,” the prime minister said.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 23, 2020
Parks will remain open for those looking to exercise, but all gatherings will be dispersed. People will be allowed to exercise alone, or with members of their own household.
Beginning immediately, Britons will only be allowed to leave their homes for one of four reasons: to shop for basic necessities, for any medical need, to take one form of exercise per day, or to travel to and from work if their job is deemed essential.
Johnson also said that the measures he was implementing would be reviewed in three weeks to determine whether they can be relaxed.
“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings,” Johnson said.
In explaining his decision, Johnson said that no Prime Minister wants to take measures like the one that is being enacted, but he believes them to be essential to the health and safety of British citizens. He also added that, if efforts to curb the spread of the virus aren’t taken, the British health system won’t be able to cope. He acknowledged the damage this would likely do to businesses and the overall health of the economy, but emphasized that more would die if the NHS was overrun.
The total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus currently stands at 335. In concluding his address, Johnson sought to leave the British people with a message of optimism.
“We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together. And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives,” Johnson said.