Mar 23, 2020 - World

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders nationwide lockdown

Photo: Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Images

In a national address on Monday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the latest world leader to order a nationwide lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Johnson warned on Sunday that a surge of coronavirus cases over the next two weeks could cripple the country's National Health Service, and that the U.K. is only "a matter of weeks" behind Italy — now the site of the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world.

  • "I urge you, at this moment of national emergency, to stay at home, protect our NHS, and save lives," Johnson said.
  • The government will reassess the lockdown in three weeks.

Details: Johnson ordered all non-essential shops, playgrounds, libraries, gyms and places of worship to close, and banned public meetings of more than two people, which he said will be enforced by police. He said citizens can leave their homes for the following "very limited" reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities as "infrequently as possible"
  • One form of exercise a day
  • Medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Traveling to and from essential work

Between the lines: This is a huge reversal from Johnson's original coronavirus strategy, which eschewed lockdowns and closures like those being implemented around Europe in favor of allowing millions to be infected to establish "herd immunity."

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With the world shutting down and spreading out, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has — in the course of four days — shown what an alternative approach to the coronavirus pandemic might look like, and why it's nearly impossible to execute.

The big picture: Johnson, flanked by his scientific advisers, laid out a strategy premised on some crucial concessions: tens of millions of Britons could be infected, many would die, and the danger would loom for many months — with fresh waves expected in the autumn and beyond.

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Boris Johnson: Coronavirus outbreak in U.K. is only weeks behind Italy

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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that a surge of coronavirus cases over the next two weeks could cripple the country's National Health Service (NHS), Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Johnson said the U.K., in terms of cases, is only "a matter of weeks — two or three — behind Italy," which overtook China last week as the country with the most reported deaths from the virus.

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Boris Johnson: "Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time"

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a sober address Thursday on his country's response to the coronavirus, saying "many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."

The big picture: Johnson said the world was now facing "the worst public health crisis in a generation." His science advisers said the country was now moving from the "contain" phase to the "delay" phase — trying to spread the outbreak over a longer period and protect those most at risk of dying.

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