UK Coronavirus Lockdown Plans: What the Government Strategy Means for You

Photo by AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth via Newscred

by Breaking News Editor, Tony Diver and Gareth Davies, The Telegraph, March 16, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is on the brink of hurling the UK into total lockdown.

Boris Johnson has asked members of the public to start working from home "where they possibly can".

"You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues," he said.

People who live with people with symptoms should all self-isolate for 14 days, he said, marking a move to whole-household isolation.

Members of the public with serious health conditions will soon be asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

"I don't think there has been anything like it in peacetime," the Prime Minister said.

Public transport

The Prime Minister has advised against all non-essential travel with immediate effect.

Mr Johnson said people who live in London should pay special attention to the advice, since the city is ahead of the rest of the country in terms of transmission speed.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, previously hinted railway services could be axed because there was no point running "ghost trains".

The London Underground is currently running as normal.

Transport for London said passenger numbers on its services have declined due to coronavirus.

It said in a statement: "A growing number of firms and individuals have changed their travel behaviour, with greater numbers of people working from home.

"This has led to an acceleration in the reduction in passenger numbers in the last week to around 19% on the Tube and 10% on buses compared to the same week the previous year.

"This is made up roughly equally of fewer people travelling and those travelling making fewer journeys."

Mass gatherings

The Government has announced it will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers, as it would usually do.

Boris Johnson said the Government wants to keep emergency workers safe from infection during the coronavirus crisis, and "was moving emphatically away from" them taking place.

The Prime Minister on Monday asked people to avoid attending mass gatherings and large groups of people, including at theatres.

It has already been taken out of the hands of sports fans with the vast majority of elite sport-including Premier League and Premiership Rugby-has been postponed for the foreseeable future. You can get all the latest updates on sports fixtures here.

Some bands have have cancelled tours, while others have defiantly played on, and with festival season not too far away there is uncertainty about how crowds will gather en masse in the coming weeks.

It seems likely that more cultural or sporting events will now be cancelled, with the Government advising people not to attend them.

If the UK decide to follow the paths of the France and Italy-gatherings of more than 1,000 will be legally outlawed. The information box below shows the measures taken by other countries.

In New York, that number drops to 500, and Austria has taken a more extreme stance by banning people gathering in groups of any more than five.

Bars and clubs

The Prime Minister has asked that people do not visit bars, clubs, restaurants and theatres from now on.

Areas of close social contact such as pubs and clubs are high risk areas for transmission of the disease.

It is expected that in the wake of the Government's recommendation, public venues will close.

It is not illegal for venues to open, but Mr Johnson said on Monday the Government has the power "if necessary" to enforce closures.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have placed quite a hefty emphasis on limiting smaller gatherings to counter the coronavirus spread.

Regulars have reported seeing fewer drinkers in their regular haunts, though, and the UK could soon be following in the footsteps of other European countries-including Ireland-in closing bars and clubs en masse.

Restaurants

The Government has asked that people do not attend restaurants, since close social contact increases risk of transmission of the disease.

Boris Johnson asked that Londoners in particular heed the Government's advice to stay indoors and not have unnecessary contact, since the city is "ahead of the curve" on transmission of the disease.

A number of restaurants are struggling with the outbreak.

As well as managing their own staff, bosses are having to deal with customers "no-showing" by not cancelling their reservations.

Please, please cancel your tables & don't just no show. Tough times at the moment, 37 covers not showing when the food is purchased and prepared and the team are on shift is a disaster anytime, let alone in the current tough climate. Help small businesses to survive this ....

— Asador 44 (@Asador44) March 11, 2020

It is expected that restaurants, like pubs and theatres, will close voluntarily.

Care Homes

Boris Johnson has said "unnecessary" visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease.

The Prime Minister said: "You can take it from what we have just said about avoiding all unnecessary contact for those particular groups-the really strong advice that we are giving to people to avoid unnecessary contact with the over-70s, those with particular health conditions-absolutely, we don't want to see people unnecessarily visiting care homes."

Government policy will change in the next week to mandate 12-week self-isolation for the elderly and vulnerable.

Prof Chris Whitty said the length of quarantine would depend on how the "curve" of epidemic played out.

"This is not a two weeks and we're done," he said.

"This is a significant period of time."

Schools

The current Government advice is that schools should only close if specifically advised to do (see video below of Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced calls from some politicians and experts to take more draconian action immediately, including the closure of all schools nationwide, in order to stem the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Mr Johnson acknowledged the argument for closing schools but said the Government would not take the decision to close them yet.

The Government's Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said the decision must be taken "at the right time".

Officials have insisted that suddenly putting thousands of children in need of parental childcare could have a serious effect on staffing levels in public services such as the NHS.

In the past few weeks, some schools have closed temporarily after members of staff, pupils or parents tested positive for Covid-19.

The Government is also understood to be considering plans that would push exams back to the autumn.

Universities

There are no Government-enforced closures, but many universities have taken it upon themselves to radically change their day-to-day running.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has announced an end to face-to-face lessons. Until the end of the academic year, all classes, exams and assessments will take place online.

Durham University has also cancelled all classroom-based lessons next week, along with all foreign field trips.

Students at King’s College London were told that that most "traditional exams" will not go ahead and alternative assessment formats and modes will be used instead. Law students were told they would be doing "take home" exams.

Coventry University said that graduation ceremonies held between March and April will be postponed due to "ongoing uncertainty" created by the coronavirus outbreak. Certificates will be posted to students' home addresses instead.

Meanwhile, some students have threatened to take mattes into their own hands amid inaction in the face of the spread of the virus, such as a group of undergraduates at Warwick University’s business school, who called for a boycott of a series of exams.

Nurseries

As with schools, nurseries largely remain open.

Current advice is that the only reason a nursery should be closed to children and parents is if a child, parent or staff member is confirmed to have contracted Covid-19.

Supermarkets

Supermarkets up and down the country have seen scenes of apocalyptic panic buying (see video below).

The Government has made assurances that supplies at the shops will remain fully stocked.

Some supermarkets-including Morrisons-have said they will be placing "purchase limits on products where there is high demand". See the information box below.

Supermarkets in other countries have been one of the only establishments-along with pharmacies-that have stayed open during lockdowns.

The Government has said people are able to leave the house in order to buy food.

Shops

Apple has closed all of its stores around the world, except for those in China, until the end of March in an effort to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

But largely in the UK, shops have remained open.

Deliveries

Although there might be a longer wait, supermarket deliveries are going ahead as usual.

Companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats have introduced a no-contact policy, which means drivers drop the food off at doorsteps instead of handing it to the customer.

For the Royal Mail, it's business as usual.

Libraries

Although there is no Government advice to close libraries, some smaller local hubs have already closed.

In Eastbourne, East Sussex, a number of centres have shut for four weeks.

Gyms

While going to the gym could increase the risk of contracting coronavirus, health centres largely remain open.

There have been a handful of closures across the country due to a member or personal trainer contracting the virus, including The Gym in Dorset.

A handful of PureGym facilities have also reported closures, but only so that they can deep-clean the gym in order that it can be reopened 48 hours later.

Cinemas and theatres

The Prime Minister on Monday said members of the public should avoid going to theatres entirely, and closures have already beg

The virus has the potential to cause serious damage to the industry.

The latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, has been pushed back to November, while many upcoming releases, including A Quiet Place 2, The Secret Garden and Disney’s Mulan, have been postponed indefinitely.

But cinemas remain open for now. As do the vast majority of theatres, but some West End shows have already called it a day. The Young Vic cancelled all remaining performances of its production of Nora: A Doll's House, which is a reimagining of Henrik Ibsen's classic play.

This came after the theatre's sister venue the Old Vic cancelled performances of Endgame, which starred Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming.

The theatre said in a statement that the decision had been taken "with great sadness", adding: "Given the new travel and other restrictions in place, it is nevertheless becoming increasingly impractical to sustain business as usual at our theatre."

The Royal Court Theatre has released a statement saying it has taken the "difficult but ultimately inevitable decision to cease performances and rehearsals as of today".

Hotels

Guests arriving at Britain's hotels can still expect to check in as planned.

There are still deals available online for getaways to Britain's favourite destinations.

 

This article was written by Breaking News Editor, Tony Diver and Gareth Davies from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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