Prime minister Boris Johnson has told pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, among other venues, to close tonight in a strengthening of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
The prime minister said that nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should close their doors from Friday night to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure.
At his daily Downing Street press conference, the prime minister said the measures were needed to reduce ‘unnecessary’ social gatherings by 75% in order to have an impact on the infection rate.
‘The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice,’ he told the daily Covid-19 press conference,’ he said.
‘And following our plan we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday.
‘We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.’
Johnson said the government would be continually assessing the situation around pubs and cafes and other requested closures ‘to see if we can relax any of these measures’.
He added: ‘You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible – but there is no guarantee that you will get it.
‘But you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on.’
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He added: ‘We want you as far as possible to stay at home.’
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said the measures shutting pubs and restaurants would be in place for 14 days ‘and then reviewed to consider their effectiveness’.
‘We will work with businesses to find new ways of trading – takeaway & delivery will continue due to emergency changes to the law & these options will be available to all businesses,’ he said.
Jenrick said betting shops, casinos, cinemas, museums, galleries and concert halls would be among the organisations facing closure.
It comes as Wetherspoon pub chain boss Tim Martin claimed there was little risk to pub goers and compared such establishments to the Houses of Parliament.
Downing Street declined to criticise the comments of the Tory Party donor.