Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced he would impose an almost-complete lockdown throughout the United Kingdom in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
Britain will close all nonessential stores, ban meetings of more than two people, and forbid residents from leaving their homes for nonessential purposes for the next three weeks, with police instructed to fine offenders.
“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” Johnson said in announcing the restrictions. “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses, and to their jobs.“
Residents will be allowed to leave home for exercise as well as food and medical supplies, and public parks will remain open.
As of Monday, the U.K. has had 6,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 335 deaths, according to the New York Times. The country had been slow to mandate the social-distancing measures taken to combat the pandemic elsewhere before authorities closed restaurants, gyms, and theaters on Friday.
“Listening to what I just said, some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight. And I say to you: Please don’t,” Johnson said on Friday. “You may think that you’re invincible, but there is no guarantee that you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others.“