Boris ramps up war on coronavirus as he calls for end of mass gatherings

Crowds during day four of the Cheltenham Festival (Picture: PA)

Boris Johnson has announced mass gatherings will no longer be supported by emergency workers to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Giving a press conference this evening, the Prime Minister said: ‘From tomorrow we will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers the way that we normally do.’

Asked whether pubs, restaurants and theatres were being ordered to close, he said: ‘What we are doing is giving very strong advice that public venues such as theatres should no longer be visited.

‘The proprietors of those venues are taking the logical steps that you would imagine, you are seeing the change happen already.

‘As for enforcement, we have the powers if necessary but I don’t believe it will be necessary to use those powers.’

The PM set out the need for ‘drastic action’ to tackle the ‘fast growth’ of coronavirus across the UK as increased social distancing measures are introduced for the population.

He added: ‘We want to ensure that this period of shielding, this period of maximum protection, coincides with the peak of the disease and it is now clear that the peak of the epidemic is coming faster in some parts of the country than in others.’

Profile of the epidemic under different approaches

As part of the measures, anyone living in a household with somebody who has either a persistent cough or fever must now also isolate themselves for 14 days.

All people should avoid gatherings and crowded places, while people who are vulnerable – including those are elderly – will need to undertake even more drastic measures.

To read all our coronavirus updates and find out what is happening around the world, click here.

Mr Johnson said that according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) ‘it looks as though we are now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve’ in the number of cases.

‘Without drastic action cases could double every five or six days,’ he said.

Mr Johnson said London appeared to be ‘a few weeks ahead’ of other areas and urged people in the capital to pay special attention to the measures – including home working – suggested by the Government.

Across the UK, 1,543 people have now tested positive for Covid-19, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday. However, many thousands more are estimated to have been infected.

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