Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a televised address to the nation on coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered people to stay at home, escalating an unprecedented clampdown on daily life to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

In a TV address to the nation on Monday night, the prime minister said all shops apart from food stores and pharmacies must close immediately.

The UK-wide lockdown will be in force for at least three weeks starting tonight.

He said people would be “allowed to leave their home” for:

  • 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; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

The Prime Minister stressed that the above were “the only reasons” people would be allowed to leave their homes.

He added that people should not meet friends or family members who do not live in their home.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings,” PM Johnson said.

“We are accelerating our search for treatments.

“We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

“And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

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