Brits urged to stay at home this weekend and respect coronavirus lockdown rules

4 April 2020, 08:03

Deserted central London during the lockdown
Deserted central London during the lockdown. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Brits are being urged to stay at home this weekend despite the warm weather to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said the coronavirus infection rate will remain high for "weeks and weeks" if people flout social distancing rules this weekend, The latest figures show the recorded death toll from the virus in the UK has risen above 4,000.

Prof Ferguson said earlier that while the epidemic was expected to plateau in the next week to 10 days, people's behaviour was critical to determining what happens next.

His warning followed similar pleas by Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock for people to stick with the social distancing measures and resist the temptation to enjoy the sunshine forecast for swathes of the UK on Saturday and Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the public should stick with the social distancing rules and resist the temptation to enjoy the sunshine forecast for swathes of the UK on Saturday and Sunday.

The UK's chief nurse Ruth May also asked Brits to "stay at home for them" - a reference to NHS workers who are risking their lives on the front line battling coronavirus.

Areema Nasreen and Aimee O'Rourke, both mothers of three children, died alongside two healthcare assistants, it was announced on Friday.

Ms May, speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, said: "This weekend is going to be very warm and it will be very tempting to go out and enjoy those summer rays.

"But please, I ask you to remember Aimee and Areema. Please stay at home for them."

She added: "I worry that there's going to be more and I want to honour them today and recognise their service."

Professor Graham Medley, a pandemic modeller advising the Government, warned that Britain had "painted itself into a corner" with no clear exit strategy from the Covid-19 crisis.

He told The Times: "This disease is so nasty that we had to suppress it completely. Then we've kind of painted ourselves into a corner, because then the question will be, what do we do now?

"We will have done three weeks of this lockdown, so there's a big decision coming up on April 13. In broad terms are we going to continue to harm children to protect vulnerable people, or not?"

Prof Medley added: "If we carry on with lockdown it buys us more time, we can get more thought put into it, but it doesn't resolve anything, it's a placeholder."

In other developments:

- The Department of Health confirmed 684 more people died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the total deaths in the UK to 3,605 as of 5pm on Thursday.

- Boris Johnson, who remains in self-isolation inside Downing Street as his coronavirus symptoms persist, said he is "feeling better".

- The Queen will make an address to the nation about the coronavirus crisis on Sunday.

- The first of the Government's emergency field hospitals to treat coronavirus patients opened in east London's ExCel centre.

Mr Johnson urged people not to break social distancing rules as the weather warms up, even if they were going "a bit stir crazy".

In a video on social media, he said: "I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think that this is all going on for quite a long time and would rather be getting out there, particularly if you've got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations.

"I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now."