Boris Johnson orders UK bars and restaurants to close

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Britain’s bars, restaurants and cinemas will all close from midnight tonight as Boris Johnson has unveiled strict new measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister announced the new plans as the total number of confirmed coronavirus related deaths in the UK rose to 177. It is up 40 on the equivalent total yesterday and is the biggest day-on-day rise since the outbreak began.

Johnson told Friday’s daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak that a new wave of restrictions will be brought into force.

He said: “We are telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not reopen tomorrow” Nightclubs, cinemas and gyms will also be closing.

Johnson admitted: “It was a huge wrench to close pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. We didn’t take the decision lightly and we will stand by those business.”

He continued: “We want you to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives,” while on a positive note added: “We will get through this together and beat this virus.”

Johnson reinforced the need for good hygiene like washing hands. He said: “We will be able to save literally thousands of lives (by taking the right action). We have the chance to get on top of this and turn the tide.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced an economic package to protect workers that will see the government step in and help pay wages which he says is “unprecedented” in UK history.

Called the coronavirus job retention scheme, companies can apply for a grant to cover the wages of staff who are not working due to coronavirus shutdowns. It will cover 80% of the salaries of retained workers – up to £2,500 a month.

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy, the country worst affected by coronavirus saw the number of deaths on Friday rise from 627 to a total of 4,032 – which is the largest daily rise since the outbreak started.