U.K. Prime Minister Issues 'Stay at Home' Order to Limit Coronavirus Spread

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict "stay-at-home" policy in a Monday press conference which will affect the entire nation.

"From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction," Johnson said. "You must stay at home."

"You should not be meeting friends," Johnson added. "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."

Johnson said residents should leave their homes only for shopping, one type of physical exercise per day, medical necessities and "traveling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home."

Johnson also announced the closing of all shops selling non-essential items, such as clothing and electronics. Libraries, playgrounds and places of worship will also be closed.

Public gatherings of more than two people will be stopped, as will social events including weddings and baptisms, but not funerals.

"If you don't follow the rules, the police will have the power to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings," Johnson said.

Newsweek reached out to the National Health Service in the U.K. for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

boris johnson
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide 'stay-at-home' order Monday. Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty

Johnson said the stay-at-home order would be under "constant review," but that the nationwide restrictions would be in place for at least three weeks.

In a Monday statement, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed the new rules.

"These rules are not optional," Khan said. "They are instructions put in place to prevent the spread of this virus. You must follow them."

"Anyone who knows me, knows my liberal instincts, and I do not take this lightly," Khan added, "but these unprecedented circumstances require extraordinary measures."

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC's Today program Monday that people who did not abide by the rules against socializing were being "unfair."

"The quicker we can stop the spread," Hancock said, "the quicker we can get out of this. So it really is incredibly unfair of people to go and socialize in the way we've seen because in helping to spread the virus, they slow down our ability to stop it."

According to recent data from the U.K. government, 6,650 positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country as 335 individuals have died as a result of the virus. However, 135 people have totally recovered.

Globally, 375,035 positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. While 101,554 cases are listed as recovered from the virus, 16,359 have died from coronavirus.

Statista Coronavirus World Map March 23, 2020
A map provided by Statista shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus disease cases around the world as of March 23.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.