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20 Mar, 2020 17:53

PM Johnson says ‘cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants’ will close as UK steps up Covid-19 response

PM Johnson says ‘cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants’ will close as UK steps up Covid-19 response

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said all pubs, cafes and restaurants across the UK will close starting Friday night, in ramped-up efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus which threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

In his daily coronavirus briefing with reporters, Johnson said he was asking people to “stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

We are telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not reopen tomorrow.

Takeaway restaurants will remain open, Johnson said. While the new measures go against the instincts of the British people, they will “get through it together and beat this virus.”

If the UK does not get its response right it could see "thousands of lives lost needlessly" but it is possible to "turn the tide" now, the PM added.

Responding to the announcement, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted that the restrictions were "absolutely essential," given the "excruciating pressure" UK hospitals are under, particularly in London.

Also on rt.com Vague emergency legislation gives UK police & ‘public health officers’ powers to DETAIN suspected Covid-19 sufferers

On Thursday, the British government published a 329-page emergency bill which gives “public health officers, constables and (in some circumstances) immigration officers” the power to detain people suspected of having the coronavirus.

The British government seems to have done a U-turn on Covid-19 policy in the last week, following public and international outrage over a planned approach of building "herd immunity" — allowing the virus to spread naturally until most of the population was infected and immune. Downing Street backtracked on that approach as it became clear that the National Health Service could be overloaded to breaking point if a massive amount of patients required intensive care treatment, as has been the case in Italy.

As of Friday, there were 3,269 registered cases of Covid-19 across the UK, of which 184 have been fatal.

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