British people need to stop non-essential social contact and avoid clubs, pubs, theaters and all unnecessary travel as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates towards the fast growth phase, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday.
PM Johnson had faced a backlash after his government took a less stringent approach to tackling the virus than countries such as Italy, France and Spain which have effectively locked down much of Europe.
In a toughening of Britain’s approach to the outbreak, PM Johnson effectively closed down much of the remaining social life in the world’s 5th largest economy.
“Now is the time for everyone to stop non essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel,” PM Johnson said at a news conference in Downing Street. “You should avoid pubs, clubs, theaters and other such social venues.”
When asked if he was ordering pubs, clubs and theaters to close, PM Johnson said he was not but that he hoped the venues would take a responsible approach. The limits on social contact could last for months or at least weeks, Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty said.
He said anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus should isolate along with their entire household for 14 days. Home working, he said, should begin in earnest.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can,” PM Johnson said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom has risen to 1,543, up from 1,372 the day before, the health ministry said on Monday.
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