Posted on Mar 20, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, after lagging behind the rest of Europe, taken the decision to close down pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms in what many see as a somewhat belated bid to slow down the accelerating spread of coronavirus.
As the outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, panicked populations and imploding financial markets.
Johnson said he understood just how wrenching it was to take away the ancient rights of the British people to go to the pub but that it was absolutely essential to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary: we’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that, it’s a huge wrench. It’s a huge wrench to do that, everybody understands that, it’s heartbreaking to think of the businesses that will face difficulties as a result of the measures this country has had to take.
Johnson said pubs, restaurants, theatres, nighttclubs, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres were being asked to close on Friday night and to remain closed indefinitely.
“We are telling cafes, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,” Johnson told reporters in Downing Street. “Though to be clear, they can continue to provide takeout services."
The move was welcomed by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has been highly critical of the government's response to the crisis.
The Prime Minister further warned that the new measures would be enforced "strictly" and that existing licensing arrangements would make doing so "relatively simple".
At the time of writing the UK has reported reported 3,983 confirmed cases, and 177 people have died so far across the country.
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