Brits who leave their homes without a valid reason could be fined, Boris Johnson announced tonight as drastic new measures were introduced to fight the spread of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister, addressing the public from Downing Street, said police will have the power to enforce the rules as unprecedented measures were introduced.
He announced that people can now only leave their homes to shop for necessities, exercise once a day, medical needs, or travelling to and from work – but only if it’s essential.
Those who do not obey face being fined, he said.
He said: “That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.
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“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.”
Crucially he continued: “If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”
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The latest move comes after the UK’s coronavirus death toll rose to 335 – an increase of 54 in just 24 hours.
Mr Johnson said the measures would be reviewed after three weeks.
Shops selling non-essential goods, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship will be closed.
Gatherings of more than two people are also banned.
In England, 46 coronavirus patients died in the last day, while four people died in both Scotland and Wales, officials confirmed today.
NHS England said in a statement: “A further 46 people who tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19) have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 303.
“Patients were aged between 47 and 105 years old and all had underlying health conditions.
“Their families have been informed.”
There have now been 16 deaths in Wales, 14 in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland.
The government has come under pressure to provide better protection for NHS workers on the frontline of the fight against the disease.
And fears have been raised that many Brits are not following social guidance advice after huge crowds gathered at beaches, parks and beauty spots over the weekend.
Major chains including McDonald’s, Next, Primark and John Lewis are already shutting their doors.
Meanwhile Britain’s supermarkets are rationing items and urging people to trust Britain’s food supply chains as panic-buyers ignore advice and continue to strip shelves bare.
Earlier today Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned the public that there is still time to avoid more stringent measures by obeying social distancing advice.
He said stricter measures including curfews are “all under active consideration”, telling BBC News: “If we have to go there then we will go there.”