Coronavirus: Warnings of 'further action' as people ignore social distancing guidelines

23 March 2020, 09:53

People were seen at parks and markets in London despite social distancing measures
People were seen at parks and markets in London despite social distancing measures. Picture: PA

The health secretary has warned of "further action" to come after people appeared to ignore social distancing guidelines by flocking to parks and markets over the weekend.

Speaking to Sky News, Matt Hancock said the government "may have to take further action" if people fail to keep at least two metres apart from each other.

He said: "This is not the sort of thing that anybody would want to do but, of course, it is the sort of thing we might have to do in order to protect life.

"If you do go out, you must not get closer than two metres from someone who isn't in your household.

"It is a really simple rule and incredibly important, because to protect life and the NHS we need to stop the spread of this virus and the virus spreads by people coming into close contact with each other."

The comments came after crowds of people were seen heading to parks, markets, beaches and other hot spots at the weekend despite the social distancing measures in force to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

"Stay home. This isn't a bonus holiday," Environment Agency manager Dave Throup said as he tweeted a picture showing queues of cars by Snowdon.

Other pictures from London showed crowds flocking to the city parks and appearing to carry on with business as usual on some high streets.

Conservative former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said he would be in support of "any measure" to get people to abide by the guidelines, while shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for "immediate preparations" for the "next stage" of the response process.

The number of people in the UK to have lost their lives after contracting Covid-19 has now risen to 281, with the youngest victim believed to be 18 years old.

A 36-year-old nurse from Walsall is also on a ventilator in intensive care after being infected.

Boris Johnson has warned the NHS could be "overwhelmed" in a similar outlook to Italy's healthcare system - which has experienced the worst death rate to coronavirus in the world - should the UK not take precaution to curb the spread.