London, Europe’s largest city and biggest entertainment center, looks almost like a ghost town with many businesses and activities forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that pubs, cafes and restaurants must shut – to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
And every nightclub, theatre, cinema, gym and leisure centre is being asked to close “as soon as they reasonably can”.
In a bid to save jobs, the government has announced an “unprecedented” economic rescue plan. For the first time in UK history, it will step in to help pay wages.
Mr Johnson told people in Britain: “You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t… there is no guarantee that you will get it, but you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on.”
He added: “We want you – as far as possible – to stay at home.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme will now be interest free for 12 months, rather than the six months previously announced.
“Any employer in the country, small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme,” he said.
“We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together. It’s on all of us.”
The Chancellor has announced a huge raft of measures to protect people’s jobs and incomes. Rishi Sunak guaranteed 80% of wages for employees unable to work, deferred VAT payments and said that the funding would not be limited.
Police have also been given sweeping powers to quarantine people with coronavirus for up to 6 weeks. If they fail to comply they could face fines of up to £1,000. Immigration officers will also be given limited powers to detain people and direct them to screening.
This edict comes on the same day as most schools and colleges in the nation were ordered closee until further notice.
Globally, the number of coronavirus cases has topped a quarter of a million – including 10,415 people who have died. Today, Italy saw 627 more deaths, which is the biggest day-to-day increase the country has suffered so far.