Ben HaywardMarch 19th
2020

The Prime Minister has announced that all cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants and pubs must close tonight to try and control the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson says the government is strengthening the measures announced on Monday to avoid unnecessary social contact and that following agreement of all the four nations of the UK, Johnson said all cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants must close tonight.

Nightclubs, theatres, gyms, cinemas and leisure centres must also close on the same timescale.

The Prime Minister also said the more effectively people follow the advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary social contact, the quicker the economy and health system can recover.

To protect jobs, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the government will step in and help pay wages, for the first time in UK history.

The coronavirus job retention scheme will allow companies and organisations to apply for a grant from HMRC to cover the wages of people who are not working due to coronavirus shutdowns, but who haven’t been laid off.

It will cover 80% of the salaries of these retained workers, up to £2,500 per month.

It means that workers across the company can retain their jobs, even if their bosses can’t afford to pay them, says the chancellor.

The new announcements come after restrictions were placed on public transport in London to stop the spread of the coronavirus while confirmed cases of sickness escalate rapidly.

Transport for London (TfL) is cutting the number of trains and buses running most likely to the level of weekend schedules after announcing on Wednesday (March 18th) night that it was closing up to 40 stations with no interchange from Thursday (March 19th) onwards.

London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: "I can’t say this clearly enough. People should not be travelling by any means unless they absolutely must. The scientific advice on this is very clear. 

"Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary and this includes avoiding the transport network. 

"I want to see more Londoners following the expert advice, which means it’s critical we see far fewer Londoners using our transport network than is currently the case.

Speaking at the now daily press conference, Mr Johnson said:

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The move comes after it was announced earlier in the week that schools would be closing down as of Friday afternoon to all but a select group of children including those of 'key workers' such as NHS staff, the police and delivery drivers and 'children who are vulnerable' including those with education, health and care plans.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was time to act on school closures, as the balance of risk had changed with many schools struggling to stay open due to staff shortages.

The Queen also issued a statement regarding coronavirus in the UK. She has urged everyone to play their part, and that 'we all have a vitally important part to play'.

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