PM Boris Johnson has set out the need for “drastic action” to tackle the coronavirus spread, calling on citizens to avoid “non-essential” travel and social contact and explicitly urging Britons to steer clear from pubs.
Insights on how to tackle the “fast growth” of the Covid-19 epidemic were shared by Johnson as he spoke live from Downing Street on Monday. While the UK had 1,543 confirmed cases of the disease, including 53 deaths, on that day, the suggested measures were more of a mild recommendation rather than severe steps taken across the channel.
“Last week asked people to stay at home if you had one of two key symptoms. A high temperature or a new and continuous cough – today we need to go further,” Johnson said, adding that just washing hands was no longer sufficient.
Johnson urged “everyone to stop non-essential contact and to stop all non-essential travel.” Londoners should pay particular attention to the advice, he added, as the capital is expected to hit the peak of the epidemic earlier than other areas.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can,” he told a news conference. “And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”
While the government has all the necessary tools to enforce such guidelines – and even to ban handshakes – Johnson expressed hopes that the people and venue owners were mature enough to follow the advice without coercion.
“I think most people would accept that we are a mature and grown-up and liberal democracy where people understand very clearly the advice that is given to them,” Johnson stated.
Telling the Britons to avoid pubs, however, turned out to be quite scary in itself. Shortly after the PM’s calls for avoiding pubs, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin called upon the government to “step in and provide a package of support” for the industry instead as it has already suffered from the outbreak.
“The severity of the Covid-19 crisis has now impacted pubs with devastating effect. The very existence of some pubs is now at threat,” McClarkin stated. “Support for pubs now is an investment in the long-term future of communities across the UK and without it we risk losing our community assets forever.”