The government will unveil more financial plans to help the economy during the coronavirus outbreak, after the prime minister announced unprecedented peacetime measures.
Boris Johnson has urged everyone to avoid unnecessary social contacts, to work from home where possible, and to stay away from pubs and restaurants.
People in at-risk groups will be asked within days to stay home for 12 weeks.
Firms warned the virus restrictions could put them out of business.
The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 55.
More than 1,500 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000.
The UK’s shift in strategy comes as Europe plans to ban all non-essential travel throughout the Schengen free-travel zone, as more countries close their borders.
In Boris Johnson’s first daily update on Monday he acknowledged the economy was facing “a severe blow” because of the virus.
The key new measures he announced included:
- Everyone should avoid gatherings with friends and family, as well as large gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres
- People should avoid non-essential travel and work from home if they can
- All “unnecessary” visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease
- People should only use the NHS “where we really need to” – and can reduce the burden on workers by getting advice on the NHS website where possible
- By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”
- If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
- Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house “even to buy food or essentials” – but they may leave the house “for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others”
- Schools will not be closed for the moment
Under the guidance, people who should be “particularly stringent” in minimising their social contact are:
- People over the age of 70
- Other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine (such as those with chronic diseases)
- Pregnant women