LAST OR­DERS! Pubs shut in bid to halt bug

CORO­N­AVIRUS: BRI­TAIN ON LOCK­DOWN

Daily Express - - NEWS - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

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.

Sad

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.”

Pic­ture: JONATHAN BUCKMASTER

Crowd...yes­ter­day at Chess­ing­ton

Pic­ture: LNP

Drinkers catch up with the news at the Red Lion in West­min­ster yes­ter­day

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