COVID-19: stay at home, protect NHS, save lives, Boris Johnson urges public

Prime minister said COVID-19 was biggest threat to face UK in decades

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation

Prime minister Boris Johnson urged the public to 'stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives' as he placed the UK in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Johnson outlined new restrictions on people leaving their homes to help slow the spread of the virus in an address to the nation from Downing Street on Monday evening.

Restrictions placed on movement

The restrictions, which came into force on Monday evening and have been welcomed by the RCN, mean people will only be able to leave their homes to do the following:

  • 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

The police will have powers to enforce the restrictions, including through fines.

'It's vital to slow the spread of the disease,' Mr Johnson said.

'Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS's ability to cope - and save more lives.'

Mr Johnson said 7,500 former health professionals - including nurses- had so far applied to join temporary registers to help tackle the pandemic.

He added the NHS was increasing stocks of equipment and buying 'millions' of testing kits.

Mr Johnson also paid tribute to nurses and others on the front-line tackling COVID-19.

'I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

'Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.'

A moment of national emergency

Mr Johnson concluded: 'We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

'And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.'

Appearing on BBC Newsnight hours after the announcement, RCN general secretary Donna Kinnair welcomed the move saying it was important people understood the 'seriousness of the situation'.

'Nurses are working tirelessly around the clock to protect patients and we need our patients and the public to do their part. Wash your hands, stay at home, self-isolate where necessary and we will be there to protect you,' she said.

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