British PM effectively closes UK

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

“We are strengthening the measures announced on Monday…”

Speaking to reporters at Downing Street on Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively closed the UK in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"We are collectively telling - telling - cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight, as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow. Though, to be clear, they can continue to provide take-out services. We're also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale."

The UK so far has over 3,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 170 related deaths.

Scientists say it is raging across London, partly because some people are not obeying advice to isolate.

Johnson on Friday stressed how crucial social distancing is at this time:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"Some people may, of course, be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you, please don't. You may think that you're invincible, but there is no guarantee that you will get mild symptoms... (flash) "I know how difficult this is and how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people..."

Johnson said his team would review the situation each month to see if he could relax any of the new measures.

Also on Friday, the UKs finance minister launched a massive stimulus package, taking the unprecedented step of pumping money into companies in order to pay workers' wages and cushion an expected surge in unemployment as much of the economy goes into a near shutdown.