Boris Johnson sends UK into lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic

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The United Kingdom is going into lockdown for at least three weeks, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacted strict limits Monday that govern where people can go and when they can leave their homes. These rules are meant to fight the ongoing spread of coronavirus, which has killed 335 people in the country so far.

“You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say ‘No.’ You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home,” Johnson said in a televised address.

The few exceptions to these restrictions include shopping for necessities, once-per-day exercise, providing medical services and commuting to work if one’s job is absolutely essential. Shops, gyms and churches are among the gathering places that will be shut down, with police on alert to break up groups and issue fines if need be.

“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs,” Johnson said.

These measures mark a reversal in strategy from Johnson, who after a March 12 press conference, drew criticism for refusing to ban gatherings of more than 500 people or close schools. But now, with the looming threat of a health care system overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, the daily lives of everyone in Britain will be changed dramatically.

“To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it,” Johnson said. “Meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.”

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