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Boris Johnson closes down all non-essential retail for at least three weeks

Lauretta Roberts
23 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, as expected, shut down all non-essential retail for at least three weeks as the country steps up its fight against the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

Using his daily address this evening the Prime Minister ordered the nation to stay indoors and only leave in family groups when shopping for essentials such as food and medicine and this should be done as infrequently as possible. They can also leave for medical reasons or to care for someone with urgent medical needs.

The public must leave their homes only once a day for one form of exercise, be it a bike ride, walk or run, either alone or with fellow members of your household only.

People must not see friends or family members in other households and the Government seeks to prevent the virus from spreading household to household.

All public gatherings of more than two people will be banned (unless those are gatherings of members of the same family) including weddings and baptisms. Only funerals are allowed to go ahead.

Libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms will be closed but parks will remain open for exercise however if any groups gather, the police has been given the powers to disperse them. People may travel to and from work but only if that work cannot be carried out at home.

In a sombre statement, Johnson said: “To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately close all shops selling non-essential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.”

The Prime Minister said the Government would "look again in three weeks" at the restrictions and relax them if there was an improvement in the situation. The death toll in the UK has now hit 335.

Most major chains from Next to Arcadia, Debenhams, John Lewis, Primark, H&M and New Look, had already shut down their stores until further notice to protect staff and customers, and the lock-down, while unprecedented, was widely anticipated.

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