British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures Monday to restrict people's movements as the coronavirus pandemic starts to take hold in the country.
Apart from essential workers who cannot do their jobs from home, people will only be allowed to go out for a limited number of reasons including fetching daily necessities, exercising once per day and caring for the sick.
Amid mounting concern over the number of people still traveling around the country, Johnson said people should not be meeting anyone with whom they do not live.
The police now have the authority to enforce these measures through fines and can disperse any gatherings. All meetings of more than two people in public will be stopped, he added.
In addition, all shops selling non-essential items will close immediately. Libraries and playgrounds will be closed as well, though parks are to remain open. Social events like weddings will stop, while funeral services will still be permitted.
The restrictions will be reviewed in three weeks, Johnson said.
In a televised address to the nation, the prime minister declared a national emergency, saying, "You must stay at home. The way ahead is hard...many lives will sadly be lost."
"Every one of us is now obliged to join together to halt the spread of this disease."
The British government has been criticized for taking a more relaxed approach to the pandemic than other European countries such as France, Italy and Spain, which have introduced stricter regulations.
As of Monday, the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Britain stood at 6,650, with 335 fatalities.
Already many people are working from home and a reduced public transport network is operating for key workers, such as medical staff.
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