LONDON (Reuters) – Britain woke up to a virtual block on Tuesday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people to stay home, close shops and end all social gatherings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
People jog in Battersea Park while the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, on March 24, 2020. REUTERS / Dylan Martinez
The unprecedented peace restrictions, which will last at least three weeks, have been introduced to prevent the National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed as the death toll in the UK has increased to 335. [nL8N2BG8XV]
However, social media images showed that the London Underground trains were still full of commuters, and a large retail chain suggested staying open.
There were complaints that the advice was confusing or did not go far enough.
“It is absolutely essential to make sure that our NHS is in the best position to limit the spread,” Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove told BBC TV.
“That means restricting social contact and following government advice. People have to stay at home to protect themselves, protect the NHS, and save lives. ”
The restrictions on movement under which people should leave their homes for very limited reasons, e.g. For example, to go to supermarkets or do sports once a day, Johnson announced in a national speech late Monday.
He had refused to introduce barriers that other European countries had introduced, but previous advice to British people to avoid gatherings was largely ignored as people flocked to parks and beauty spots.
Everyone except the main stores must close immediately and people should no longer meet family or friends. The police will break up gatherings of more than two people, and social events such as weddings, though no funerals, will be stopped.
Gove said that measures greater than £ 30 ($ 35) fines could be imposed on people who violated the new restrictions.
“The police have a number of enforcement tools, and of course criminal charges and fines are just one of them. If people continue to behave anti-social, we will have stronger measures, ”he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
The police said they were working with the government to find out how the rules could be enforced effectively.
However, not everyone adhered to the tough measures. Sports Direct, a sportswear chain owned by the Frasers Group, initially said it would oppose the closure, but later said it had asked the government for permission to open stores.[L8N2BH22Y]
Gove said Sports Direct was not an essential store and should close.
However, there was confusion about who was allowed to continue working and what powers the police had to enforce the new guidelines. Gove himself had to correct a false message that he had given in an earlier interview that children of divorced or separated children could not move between parents.
Images showed that the capital’s subways were still crowded with passengers far closer than the recommended distance of 2 meters, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he disagreed with the current definition of an essential worker
“There have been disagreements between me and the government on this issue, I have to be honest,” he told BBC TV. “But I am very clear – only if you really have to go to work, you have to go to work.”
Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak should announce new measures later Tuesday to help the self-employed so that they don’t have to go to work after critics said the £ billion measures to support previously announced companies are not protecting them.
($ 1 = 0.8582 pounds)
Additional reporting from Sarah Young, Paul Sandle and James Davey; Written by Michael Holden and Giles Elgood