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Pubs, restaurants and gyms told they must close as government steps up coronavirus fight

Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants have been told to close tonight (Friday) and not to open tomorrow as the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus steps up.

Nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres must also follow suit, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the latest press briefing on the crisis.

Boris Johnson announces the new measures (32057644)
Boris Johnson announces the new measures (32057644)

It came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced an “unprecedented” measure - the government will pay up to 80 per cent of the wages of employees left unable to work due to the pandemic.

“I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, about not having enough set by for food and bills,” he said.

“I know that some people in the last few days have already lost their jobs. To all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: you will not face this alone.”

The public was told not to go out tonight by the Prime Minister.

He said: “We are collectively telling, 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.

“Now, 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.

“And I want to stress that we will review the situation each month, to see if we can relax any of these measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (31739273)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (31739273)

“And listening to what I have just 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.

“To repeat, I know how difficult this is, how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people. And I also know much, right now, 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.”

He promised the UK economy would “bounce back” but warned: “I must be absolutely clear with you: the speed of that eventual recovery depends entirely on our ability, our collective ability, to get on top of the virus now.”

As of 9am on March 19, Public Health England said there 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire.

Across the UK to date, 177 people have died - up 39 on yesterday, the biggest single rise in a day.

The number infected across the country as of 9am on Friday was 3,983.

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