After addressing the nation's effort - or apparent lack thereof - to self-isolate, Boris Johnson has confirmed the inevitable; people can't bloody listen, and now it's time to get serious.
Boris Johnson has announced the new measures that the government will be taking to stave off the spread of coronavirus and - you guessed it - it's a lockdown. While some people out there were listening to the advice to stay indoors (which saw a surge in piracy), it wasn't enough. The request is now an "instruction".
After reminding the British public of the reasons behind the advice that they didn't follow, he launched into why we're getting the new rules, saying:
"To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it, meaning more people are likely to die; not just from coronavirus, but from other illnesses as well. So it's vital to slow the spread of the disease, because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time; so we can protect the NHS' ability to cope; and save more lives.
"And that's why we've been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic. And though huge numbers are complying - and I thank you all - the time has now come for us all to do more. From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: you must stay at home."
Johnson went on to outline the new normal by detailing the only circumstances in which you can leave the house:
- Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
- Any medical need
- To provide care, or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work but only where this is absolutely necessary, and cannot be done from home
As Boris says, "that's all. These are the only reasons you should leave your home." He then listed things you shouldn't be doing i.e. everything not on that list, and encouraged people to use food delivery services where they can.
To make it easier for people to follow the rules, everything that's non-essential is shutting down. That includes all shops selling non-essential goods, places like libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms [is that a thing?], and places of worship. More importantly,
"We'll stop all gatherings of two people in public excluding people you live with," he added, which is where the police will step in, and all social events are off (weddings, baptisms, etc.) with the exception of funerals. Parks are staying open for exercise, but don't again, stick to the no gatherings rule or you'll be dispersed. This suggests that we'll see an increase in police presence, at least in the places listed, to make sure people are complying. Good thing the government hasn't spent the last decade cutting police budgets, right?
Johnson made it clear that police do have the power to enforce these rules, and if you're buggering about for any reason other than those sanctioned, they can carry out those new powers "including" dispersing gatherings and issuing fines. That's very vague on the subject of arrests, which is something that's been happening in Spain. Accounts of arrests in the country have included a jogger (there's no going outdoors for exercise over there) which was caught on video and escalated wildly, and a woman who popped out to visit a guy she met on a dating app.
The Prime Minister says the new measures will be "under constant review", with the first happening in three weeks. He acknowledged the disruption all of this will bring to people's lives and jobs, and went on to say that the government has "produced a huge and unprecedented program of support both for workers and for business." So we're waiting on the details of that. He assured the country that the measures would be relaxed "if the evidence shows that we're able to".
So we'll see how that pans out.