Boris Johnson faces calls for more clarity over lockdown

Boris Johnson is facing calls for clarity after placing the UK on a police-enforced lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 6:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 6:47 am

The Prime Minister ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of ‘very limited purposes’, banned public gatherings of more than two people and ordered the closure of non-essential shops.

But police chiefs warned of phone lines being inundated with calls on Monday night with questions about what movements are still permitted, while MPs also called for answers.

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Boris Johnson at one of his daily press conferences held during the coronavirus crisis

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South Yorkshire Police was one of the forces which received ‘an extremely high volume of calls from people asking for further guidance’.

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley warned the public not to ‘cripple our phone’ lines with enquiries on the PM's announcement.

Lincolnshire Police warned of an ‘extremely high volume’ of calls, and Humberside Chief Constable Lee Freeman said his force had received ‘a number of calls’ on the subject, which he said he was unable to answer.

In an address to the nation from Downing Street, Mr Johnson ordered people to only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’, and to only perform one form of exercise a day.

They can also seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if ‘absolutely necessary’, under the measures to last until at least Easter Monday.

A failure to follow the rules could see police dispersing gatherings and imposing fines.

After the UK death toll hit 335 yesterday, the Prime Minister ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing.

In addition to pubs and restaurants, which are already close, libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, places of worship and hotels have now followed suit.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be ‘under constant review’ and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks if the evidence allows.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close - and the government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders.”