Coronavirus: Now the Government urges everyone to work from home and avoid travel

The Prime Minister asks everyone to stop going to the pub or cinema in dramatic new measures to fight covid-19 coronavirus

The Government is now asking everyone to work from home and avoid travel if they can help it, to stop the spread of coronavirus.

And they should avoid pubs, cinemas and other social venues.

The Government also effectively banned major crowd events such as football matches, by saying the police would no longer attend in the way they usually do.

Anyone who is particularly vulnerable to infection will be asked to stay indoors for 12 weeks, starting from this weekend.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, revealed the battle to stop the virus spreading was entering a new stage in the first of the planned daily coronavirus press conferences.

He said: "Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others. And to stop all unnecessary travel.

"We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues."

Mr Johnson said: "This advice about avoiding all social contact is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions."

He also said that anyone in a household where someone has the covid-19 coronavirus should go into isolation and remain at home for 14 days. They should find someone else to do their shopping or deliver supplies to their home, he said.

Previously, this measure only applied to people with symptoms - not the other people in their homes.

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And the most vulnerable people, whether they are ill or not, will be asked to stay at home for 12 weeks.

He announced that police will no longer attend events such as football matches or concerts.

Mr Johnson said: "From tomorrow we will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers in the way that we normally do".

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While the Prime Minister did not spell it out, the announcement effectively makes it impossible for these events to take place (though sporting events could theoretically take place without spectators).

Schools will not be closed - but the Government's scientific advisers said that may change in the future.

Mr Johnson said the Government's policy was "to minimise suffering and save life", in what may have been an attempt to counter claims from critics that the Government had a deliberate policy of allowing people to catch the disease.

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And everything the Government did "is based scrupulously on the best scientific advice", he said.

He said that last week the government asked people to stay at home if they had a high temperature or a new, continuous cough,

But he said it was now time to "go further".

The UK is approaching a period when cases will rise quickly, he said.

"Without drastic action, cases could double every five or six days.

The virus was spreading fastest in London, he said.

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Also speaking at the Number 10 press conference were Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance

It was the first of the new daily press conferences the Government plans to hold, in an bid to keep the public informed and improve confidence in its plans to deal with the virus.

Mr Johnson is to take part in most of them, alongside the Chief Medical Office and Chief Scientific Adviser. Another Minister will take over when he is not available.

It follows criticism over the weekend that the Government is failing to communicate clearly with the public.

The Government says the UK is leading international efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and produce the medical equipment needed to help people recover.

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Earlier today, Mr Johnson spoke to British manufacturers including Unipart Group to ask them to support production of essential medical equipment for the NHS. He also chaired a meeting of COBRA, the Government committee that deals with emergencies.

In recent days the Prime Minister has spoken with world leaders including President Trump, Germany's leader Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Conte of Italy and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, the leaders of the G7 group of the world's largest economies will participate in a call to discuss international efforts.

Germany closed its borders with neighbouring countries as European nations attempted to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Separately, the Ministry of Defence has said it is planning for “all eventualities” in response to the coronavirus.

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Defence Minister James Heappey said: “The Ministry of Defence plans for all things, whether it be for flooding, or indeed for pandemic.

"We are planning for all eventualities in response to Covid-19 and we’re content that we have what we need within our resources to meet the likely requirements for government.”

Retailers have reported a rise in abuse of staff amid coronavirus panic-buying, despite supermarkets calling for calm from shoppers.

It comes after a chaotic weekend for retailers, which saw their shelves emptied of essential items such as toilet rolls, cleaning products, dried pasta and tinned food, after the virus outbreak was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

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Supermarket websites and online grocers are also suffering from huge surges in orders, with some key items being rationed per customer.

Chief executives are in discussions with the Government about limiting products to ensure key lines remain in stock, although the prevailing view is that supply chains are holding up.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said staff have been the victims of abuse in recent days, but retailers are working with the police to keep stores “running as smoothly as possible”.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, said: “Even when circumstances are difficult, retailers are well versed in providing effective security measures.”

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