LAST ORDERS! Pubs shut in bid to halt bug
CORONAVIRUS: BRITAIN ON LOCKDOWN
BORIS Johnson last night ordered every pub, restaurant and bar in the country to shut down to help the fight against coronavirus.
In a drastic extension of the Government’s social-distancing measures to limit the spread of the killer disease, the Prime Minister also told nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to cease operating immediately.
His edict followed fury that Government advice for people to voluntarily stay away from social venues was being widely flouted, especially in London.
Crowds were also turning up at theme parks yesterday, including Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland in Windsor.
Merlin Attractions, which owns both sites, said they will be shut indefinitely from today.
Mr Johnson insisted the dramatic curbs were vital to “push down further” the spread of the virus.
But he apologised for withdrawing the “ancient inalienable right of free-born people of the UK to go to the pub”. It comes after his own dad, Stanley, 79, vowed he would still go to his local earlier this week.
The draconian restrictions – thought to be unprecedented in peacetime since the era of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate – will be reviewed every six months.
Betting shops will also be ordered to shut. Pubs and restaurants will be permitted to serve takeaway food but won’t be able to serve customers drinking and eating on the premises.
Mr Johnson announced the nationwide shutdown at his daily Downing Street news conference yesterday. He said it had been agreed with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
He explained: “We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.
“We are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow, though to be clear, they can continue to provide take-out services.
“We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.
“These are places where people come together, and indeed the whole purpose of these businesses is to bring people together.
“But the sad thing is that today for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.”
The Prime Minister also made an impassioned plea for drinkers not to indulge in one final Friday night binge. He said: “Some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight but please don’t. You may think you are invincible but there is no guarantee you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others. So that’s why, as far as possible, we want you to stay at home, that’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.” Signalling his reluctance to play the role of national killjoy, the Prime Minister added: “I know how difficult this is, how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people.
“And I also know how much workers and business deserve the financial reassurance we are giving them. But we will get through this, we will get through it together, and we will beat this virus.”
Mr Johnson declined to condemn those who had flouted his earlier call for voluntary abstinence from going to pubs and restaurants.
He said: “I don’t want to get into moral name-calling but I do accept what we are doing is extraordinary.
“We are taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the UK to go to the pub. I can understand how you all feel about that.
“But I say to people who do go against the very clear advice that we’re getting from our medical and scientific experts: you are not only putting you own life and the lives of your family at risk, you’re endangering the community.
“And you’re making it more difficult for us to protect the NHS and save lives. If people comply, we will not only save thousands of lives, we will come out of this thing all the faster.”
A Government source said: “If we are to save lives and bring down the infection rate, we need people to follow this guidance.”
Crowd...yesterday at Chessington
Drinkers catch up with the news at the Red Lion in Westminster yesterday