Boris Johnson announces coronavirus lockdown in UK

By Annabelle Dickson

LONDON — U.K. police will be given the power to enforce strict new government rules about when people can leave their homes, Boris Johnson said Monday night as the government tries to halt the spread of coronavirus.

British people will only be allowed to leave their homes to shop for basic goods, to exercise once a day, to receive care or help a vulnerable person and to travel to essential work, the U.K. prime minister said during an address to the nation from No. 10 Downing Street.

Police will be given powers to issue fines and disperse gatherings, he added.

All shops selling non-essential goods, libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship will close and no more than two people will be allowed to gather in public. All social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will be stopped, apart from funerals.

"Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses," he said.

The restrictions will be kept under "constant review," Johnson said, and would be relaxed in three weeks' time if the evidence allowed.

"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," he said.