BORIS Johnson will speak to the nation tonight at 8.30pm as he gears up for a major coronavirus crackdown – after selfish Brits continued to ignore stay at home advice.
Hairdressers, newsagents and clothing stores could be forced to shut to stop the spread of the disease further, leaving all but food stores and pharmacies open.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said more action was on the way if the population flouted guidelines to keep everyone safe – as Scotland ordered more shop closures.
Boris Johnson’s usual afternoon press conference is on hold as he chairs an emergency COBRA meeting this afternoon at 5pm.
In a sign significant measures will be announced, the PM is then expected to address the nation shortly afterwards.
Earlier today First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today that all non-essential businesses had to shut now – and far too many people were still going to work.
Hair salons and building sites must close to stop the spread, she stressed.
She said: “It has been clear to me that there are still too many people across our country who are being expected to, or expecting to, go to work as normal and this presents a serious and unnecessary risk of spreading the virus.
“I want to reiterate that if you run a business and if the nature of your business makes it difficult for you or your workers to work from home or to practice safe social distancing then you should close.”
She added: “This morning I was asked on radio about building sites and hair salons and my advice would be to close.”
The order to close all “non-essential shops” is set to be discussed at this afternoon’s COBRA meeting.
Meanwhile, caravan parks, campsites, tourist hotspots and popular beauty spots will be closed to visitors from today in Wales – which could be rolled out across the nation.
And playgrounds could shut too to deter children from going out to play with their friends.
Photographs of packed tube trains this morning showed that there were still thousands of people travelling to get to work – either as they remained open or weren’t sure whether they were allowed to stay home.
It came as:
- An 18-year-old was thought to have become the youngest victim of the virus in Britain as the number of deaths in the UK rose to 335 today
- There are growing fears that Britain is on a similar trajectory to Italy – scene of the world’s worst outbreak – where the death toll passed 5,000 over the weekend
- The PM warned the NHS could be “overwhelmed” in the same way as the Italian healthcare system has been, if the spread of the virus in the UK is not curbed
- 1.5million vulnerable people will be written to this week to tell them to stay indoors
- Trains were taken under government control this morning – with Brits able to get a refund on unused season tickets
- All McDonalds branches will be closed from tonight – along with Nando’s, Costa Coffee, John Lewis, Greggs, Primark and Timpson
- Ministers will bring forward emergency laws to the Commons tonight giving the PM sweeping powers to fine people who don’t isolate
This morning No10 said the Government were analysing rafts of data to see whether people were doing as they were told.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “There is a wide range of data which is available for use of public transport, for footfall in relation to high streets, on the use of parks and public spaces.
“We are monitoring all of that daily. If we need to take further steps to reduce social interactions, we will.”
Speaking after Boris Johnson warned there would be more to come, Mr Hancock said: “People need to stay two metres apart.
“If that isn’t followed, we are going to have to take more draconian action.
“As Health Secretary, I’m working every hour there is protect people.”
He said a decision would be made “very soon”.
Actions which could be on the cards could include dramatic measures to force people to stay in their homes.
Already parks and open spaces are being shut as people cram themselves in to try and get fresh air, but the Government may take action to close them across the board.
Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the high numbers of people who went out to parks and more rural areas at the weekend, defying government advice.
She said: “It is not acceptable. The Government could not have been clearer that in order to save lives and to protect the public during this public health emergency, it is right that we practise social distancing in the way in which the Government has outlined, the Government is reinforcing, the chief medical officer and many others are reinforcing day in, day out.
“And with that, we ask the public to take responsibility.”
In France and Italy already people have to have paperwork to leave their house and face on the spot fines if they do not obey the rules.
Some countries have one nominated person who can go out and get shopping and other supplies.
Germany has banned more than two people from meeting at a time.
Ministers are also considering wider shutdowns of shops and other public spaces, it was claimed this morning.
Last week No10 played down the prospect of a London travel ban – insisting that travel both in and out of the capital would not be shut.
But the PM is under huge pressure to take all measures possible to try and stop Britain becoming the new Italy.
Ministers and MPs are worried that Boris isn’t going far enough to stop this becoming a full blown crisis and thousands of people dying needlessly.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said they would support a tougher crackdown too, saying: “If voluntary social distancing measures are not adhered to, the government must bring forward their plans for stronger action.”
And expected new Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer said more action as needed too like in other counties, saying: “In these extraordinary times, the Government must now set out further compliance measures, such as those introduced in other countries.”
One source told Buzzfeed that the mood among Cabinet ministers and senior advisers would be ‘”full scale mutiny if he does not upgrade the response as soon as possible.
A government source said it was a question of how long it would be before more lockdown measures come.
They said: “It is inevitable, you just have to look at other countries. The sooner you do it the better.”
Ministers will bring forward emergency laws to the Commons tonight giving the PM sweeping powers to fine people who don’t isolate.
This morning the Government confirmed it would give MPs a say every six months on whether to renew the emergency legislation – up to a maximum of two years.
They bowed to the demands of Labour MPs and possible rebel Tories as they desperately try and push the measures through the House of Commons in just one day today.
Ministers have said no one should be commuting unless they are a key worker – or they absolutely have to.
This morning schools are only open to the children of essential workers like NHS and police staff – and everyone else is being told to keep their kids at home to stop the spread of the killer bug.
Over the weekend thousands flocked to holiday homes, caravan sites and other rural hotspots to try and escape the virus, despite ministers insisting non-essential travel should be stopped last week.
Mr Hancock blasted them this morning, saying: “It’s very selfish.
“If people go within two metres of others who they don’t live with, they are helping to spread the virus – that costs lives.”
He got into a row with furious Piers Morgan this morning, who insisted that the Government must lock down the entire country to stop the spread.
The Good Morning Britain host raged at the “morons on the streets” who aren’t listening to the PM.
“In Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, all of these are in almost total lock down and we are seeing these catastrophic pictures, people going out partying like its a bank holiday.
“People are not listening.
“They want clear direction, they are too stupid to make that decision themselves.
“We are risking lives!
“Every day we are not locking down, we are putting health workers at greater risk.”
Yesterday it was announced the National Trust would close all of its parks and gardens, with many other large parks around the country following suit – but many have remained open.
MPs said there was now a clear mood for firmer action amid fears that further delay would cost lives.
Conservative former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said he would support “any measure” the government brought forward to force people to comply with the guidance.
Mr Smith, the former Northern Ireland secretary, said: “Many people have recklessly ignored government advice this weekend.
“I will support any measure the Government needs to force people to follow the guidelines designed to protect NHS staff and UK citizens’ lives.”
Meanwhile London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I am clear, life has changed and we have to do things differently for a while now.
“Social interaction will spread the virus. Do shopping for elderly neighbours, only buy what you need.”
He added: “There are instructions and rules we need to obey to stop people dying.
“Making sure there is no confusion or mixed messages, people should not be leaving their homes unless they have to, they can walk dogs or exercise, but mixing socially leads to more people dying.”
In his address to the nation yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think you need to use your imagination very much to see where we might have to go, and we will think about this very very actively in the next 24 hours.
“We need to think about the kind of measures we’ve seen elsewhere – other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people’s movements altogether, now as I say I don’t want to do that.”