What do the latest UK coronavirus announcements mean for you?

20 March 2020, 20:16

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak appeared alongside Dr Jenny Harries
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak appeared alongside Dr Jenny Harries. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak announced some sweeping measures in response to coronavirus on Friday evening, but how will they impact your life?

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing that pubs, clubs and restaurants should close from Friday evening onwards, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying the government would pay workers 80 per cent of their income, the UK now finds itself in unchartered territory because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures announced will be in place for at least two weeks, however it is widely expected that it will take longer for the Covid-19 pandemic to subside.

What is even more incredible is that these measures are being released under a Conservative government, who have effectively nationalised vast swathes of the private sector.

Gyms, leisure centres and almost all the hospitality industry will be affected by the new government advice, meaning that the civil liberties enjoyed by Brits for generations will be significantly curbed.

So how will the measures affect you and your lifestyle?

Can I go to the pub?

Pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars have now closed across the UK to stem the spread of Covid-19. It is not yet known when they will re-open.

Restaurants are permitted to remain open as takeaways.

However, Boris Johnson has not announced a formal lockdown and is seeming to rely on the goodwill of the public to abide by the measure, rather than strictly enforcing it.

Can I head to the gym?

As above, although there has been no mention of the word "lockdown" it is difficult to describe the new measures as anything other than an informal "lockdown."

This means that those trips to the gym to keep you fit, healthy and ready to tackle any illness will have to come to a stop. Even relaxing trips to the theatre or the cinema will be affected by the changes.

Can I still go outside?

With gyms ruled out, perhaps you would rather go outside for a run? This is still possible, however large groups have been advised not to exercise together. When outside, you should keep a couple of metres in between yourself and others.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said if you choose to head outside, you should do it in a way that reduces your social contact.

Can I get a takeaway?

The Prime Minister said that venues affected by the advised closures will still be allowed to provide a takeaway service in order to encourage people not to come together in one place.

Therefore, you will still be able to get a pizza, a curry, a Chinese or Fish and Chips to help you through the pandemic.

Can I still go to the shops?

Clothing shops and supermarkets will be allowed to remain open but some will, and already have, decided to start closing anyway.

However, supermarkets, food halls and pharmacies will be encouraged to remain open in order to keep the nation fed. But the government's advice remains clear that there is no need for individuals to stockpile.

How long will these measures last?

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the closures should last for at least two weeks "and then reviewed to consider their effectiveness."

However, scientists advising the government have warned that the restrictions could be in place for at least "most of a year."

Will my job be protected?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was setting up a coronavirus job protection scheme to help employers hit by the outbreak.

He said businesses would be able to apply to HM Revenue and Customs to cover 80 per cent of the wages they pay their staff, up to £2,500 a month, and suggested this could go even further in the future.

What if I'm unemployed?

For those who are out of work, the Chancellor announced a £1,000 increase a year in the Universal Credit allowance for the next 12 months.

He also said he would raise the working tax credit basic element by the same amount which, he claimed, would benefit four million households across the country.

What if I'm self-employed?

The biggest uncertainty appears to be for those who are freelancers, on zero-hours contracts or self-employed

However, self-employed people will also now be able to access universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.

Can I see my mother on Mother's Day?

Boris Johnson warned people not to put the vulnerable at risk on Sunday, especially the elderly, despite the special nature of the day.

He said: "Think very carefully about the risk of transmission of the virus and follow the advice."