A THREE-WEEK nationwide lockdown has been announced by the government, in the latest measure to fight the Coronavirus epidemic.

In an address to the nation this evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the emergency measures to the public.

The order - brought in after images of the public failing to heed 'social distancing' advice circulated this weekend - will be effective from this evening.

Johnson said members of the public would only be allowed to leave their homes in the event of:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
  • tending to any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
  • and travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and can not be done from home.

Mr Johnson added: "If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings."

He said people should not be meeting friends, family members who you do not live with and that you should only be shopping for essential goods such as food and medicine.

Gatherings of more than two people will also be banned, excluding people that you live with.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings of more than two people will be dispersed.

All shops selling non-essential items will be closed, along with libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and placed of worship.

Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will be halted, although people will still be allowed to attend funerals.

"Many lives will sadly be lost," the Prime Minister reiterated. "But there is also a way through."

Mr Johnson said that the 'time bought' through the public staying at home would allow the health service and medical researchers the necessary time to combat the virus.

In the last few minutes, the Labour Party has welcomed the measures.

A further 46 people, who tested positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) were reported to have died today, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 303.