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20.46 23 Mar 2020


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The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced severe new restrictions on movement as his government tries to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In an address to the nation tonight, Mr Johnson said that people should stay at home for three weeks in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

People can now only leave home for shopping, for one form of exercise a day, for a medical appointment or to help a vulnerable person.

They can also go to work, but only when it is "absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home".

Mr Johnson said people should not be meeting friends or family members they don't live with.

Police will be able to issue fines to those who flout the restrictions.

He said he was giving the public "a very simple instruction": "you must stay at home".

Mr Johnson said: "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.

"If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

He added that all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship, would be closed with immediate effect.

He said: "No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

"And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

"And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

Meanwhile, a third person has died in Northern Ireland after testing positive for coronavirus.

That brings the overall number of deaths in the UK to 336 - an increase of 54 since yesterday.

The Department of Health and Social Care said 6,650 people have tested positive for coronavirus across the UK as of 9am this morning - an increase of 967 from the day before.

Additional reporting by IRN

Main image: Screengrab of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, tonight. Photo: PA Video/PA Wire/PA Images

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