Boris Johnson said the Government is telling pubs, cafes, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, leisure centres and gyms to close from tonight to fight coronavirus

The Prime Minister said the more effectively people follow the advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary social contact, the quicker the economy and health system can recover.

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Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said: “The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice,” he told the daily Covid-19 press conference.

“And following our plan we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday.

“We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.

“And so following agreement with all the … devolved administrations, we are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow.

“Though, to be clear, they can continue to provide take out services

“We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.”

Boris Johnson said the Government would be continually assessing the situation around pubs and cafes and other requested closures “to see if we can relax any of these measures”.

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He added: “You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible – but 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.”

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Mr Johnson said: “It is hard to think of the businesses that will face difficulties as a result of the measures this country has had to take but that is why we are also simultaneously announcing quite an exceptional package of support.

“Not just for businesses, but for individual workers and our message to business is that ‘we will stand behind you and we hope that you will stand behind your workers’.”

He added: “We all remember what happened in 2008 (during the financial crisis). This time, as we heal the economic damage that this is causing, we want to make sure that we put the people first.”

The Prime Minister added: “I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary – we’re taking away the ancient inalienable right of freeborn people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub.

“And I can understand how people feel about that.

“But I say to people who do go against the advice that we’re getting, the very clear advice that we’re getting from our medical and scientific experts, you know you’re not only putting your own life, the lives of your family, at risk – you’re endangering the community.

“And you’re making it more difficult for us to get on and protect the NHS and save lives.

“And if you comply, if people comply as I say, then we will not only save lives, thousands of lives, but we’ll come out of this thing all the faster.”

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted that the measures to shut pubs and other public spaces were “absolutely essential to do this given the excruciating pressure hospitals, especially in London, are under”.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the measures shutting pubs and restaurants would be in place for 14 days “and then reviewed to consider their effectiveness”.

“We will work with businesses to find new ways of trading – takeaway & delivery will continue due to emergency changes to the law & these options will be available to all businesses,” he said.

Mr Jenrick said betting shops, casinos, cinemas, museums, galleries and concert halls would be among the organisations facing closure.