The UK lockdown has officially been greenlit, and here’s what you need to know.
With the coronavirus outbreak showing no signs of slowing down, the government has authorised a lockdown of the entire country, starting this evening. Residents have been asked to stay in their homes at all times, only venturing out for infrequent trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, for any medical need or to provide care for a vulnerable person, travelling to and from work where absolutely necessary, and for one form of exercise a day—for example a run, walk, or cycle—either alone or with people from your household.
A drastic measure which has already been employed in Italy, Spain, China, and elsewhere, lockdown restricts movement and advises all but the most essential trips outdoors, in order to reduce the spread of the virus. It goes a big step further than the situation up until now, which saw the closure of pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, and more on Friday evening.
The government’s decision to do more was fuelled by the number of people who headed outdoors over the weekend, as parks and green spaces became flooded with those hoping to social distance whilst still enjoying the sunshine. In London, police were called to close the likes of Richmond and Bushy parks to cars, as an influx of people raised concerns about the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the new plans to contain the spread in today’s briefing. Here are the key takeaways about the UK lockdown:
- You are permitted only to shop for the essentials, ie. groceries and medical supplies. Although you should use delivery services where possible.
- There will be total bans on gatherings of more than two people, except with members of your household.
- All non-essential shops will close, as will libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms.
- You’re allowed outside to exercise once a day, either alone or with people from your household.
- Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will be stopped, with the exception of funerals.
- Police will have the power to enforce fines and disperse gatherings if these regulations are not adhered to.
- These measures will be reviewed in three weeks time and will be relaxed “if the evidence shows we are able to”.
As of today (March 23rd), there were 2,433 confirmed coronavirus cases in the capital, out of 6,650 across the UK — so some 36% of UK cases have occurred in London. In announcing the move, Johnson said:
“I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus. Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline. But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted. Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together. To halt the spread of this disease. To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives. And I know that as they have in the past so many times. The people of this country will rise to that challenge. And we will come through it stronger than ever. We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.”
All these measures mean that your daily life is once more about to change massively. The new restrictions are paired with TfL’s closure of 40 Tube stations across the network due to falling ridership, along with UK school closures and that country-wide pubs and restaurants ban. It’s clear that life is going to look very different for a little while.
There’s no two ways about it: the UK, and the good people who live here, are going to be majorly disrupted by the lockdown. It is, however, a small price to pay to save lives – so settle in, look out for one another, and keeping washing those hands. We’ll get through this, together.
More information – including FAQs about what life in a lockdown will look like – will follow as soon as we have it, so keep your eyes on this page.
Also published on Medium.