Mass gatherings banned in Britain to ease impact of coronavirus outbreak

13 March 2020, 22:37

Mass sports gatherings could be banned in Britain
Mass sports gatherings could be banned in Britain. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Mass gatherings including sports fixtures and music concerts will be banned to stop the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

Multiple sources have told Saturday newspapers that the measures will be introduced from next weekend due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Downing Street sources have told LBC News that mass gatherings are likely to be banned and "steps are being taken" to implement that from next weekend.

Although it has not yet been defined how many people will constitute a "mass gathering", it is understood the measures will apply to sports fixtures, music concerts and business conferences.

Follow the LBC News live blog for all the latest on coronavirus.

A source told the Mirror: "Ministers are working with the Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Medical Officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week.

“We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home.

Boris Johnson has so far refused to ban mass gatherings
Boris Johnson has so far refused to ban mass gatherings. Picture: PA

“There are many complex considerations to make all these measures as effective as possible.“We will make the right decisions at the right time based on the best scientific evidence."

On Thursday, Boris Johnson said he would not be banning mass gatherings as he announced the country was moving into the "delay" phase of tackling the virus.

He also said he would not be closing schools, but has faced criticism for not taking more decisive and serious actions to tackle the spread of the virus.

The measures introduced by the prime minister to "minimise suffering" from the escalation of the outbreak include:

- Stay at home for seven days if you have any symptoms consistent with coronavirus

- Over 70s with serious medical conditions should not go on cruise trips

- Children should not go on international school trips

READ MORE: Covid-19 vaccine 'close to being developed' after tests on mice

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The London marathon was earlier postponed until October due to the outbreak
The London marathon was earlier postponed until October due to the outbreak. Picture: PA

Referring specifically to school closures, he said: "The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time but of course we are keeping this under review."

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty later expanded on the this decision which he said was due to research indicating that children are less affected by the virus.

But, the prime minister added: "Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time" as the UK battles with "the worst public health crisis of a generation."

At the time of writing, 798 people have been officially diagnosed with coronavirus, although health officials said yesterday the true figure could be as high as 10,000.

11 people have sadly died.

In response to the outbreak, all professional football fixtures in the UK have now been banned, after Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive on Friday.

And the Queen has cancelled a number of public engagements over risks to the Monarch's health.

The move to ban mass gatherings is following in the footsteps of a number of other European countries which have been hit with the illness.

Italy - which has seen more than 1,000 people die - has been in complete lockdown for a number of days, with shops across the country closing.

Denmark has closed its borders, while France and Switzerland have closed cinemas, pubs, schools and universities.

US President Donald Trump earlier declared a national emergency over the outbreak, which has killed 41 people in the US and infected more than 2,00.

Here's what you need to know about the Covid-19 outbreak:

Coronavirus symptoms - What are they and what is the risk of Covid-19 in the UK?

Coronavirus: What are some of the myths and disinformation around Covid-19?

Coronavirus UK: Do surgical face masks work to avoid virus symptoms?

Coronavirus: What is a pandemic and how is one declared?

Coronavirus - How will it impact on the world of sports?