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Posted: 2020-03-25 00:20:58

The UK's coronavirus death toll has jumped to 422 in the biggest daily rise yet, and yet people are still crammed on the tubes and mingling in parks.

Eighty-seven more patients died overnight in England, including 21 at the one NHS trust in London. Scotland also announced two fatalities, while Wales and Northern Ireland confirmed another death. 

In contrast, fifty-four infected Brits died the day before. The UK's death toll has risen almost six-fold in the space of a week, with just 71 fatalities recorded last Tuesday.

Britain also saw a record spike in cases today, with 1,427 more patients known to have caught the virus as the total number of infected Britons surpassed 8,000.

But the true size of the outbreak is being hidden because of the Government's controversial decision to only test patients in hospital. The true size of the outbreak is likely to be closer to the 400,000 mark.

It comes as police officers were today forced to break up barbecues being held in different parts of the UK as Brits flouted new draconian powers to disperse crowds of more than two to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

In shocking footage, Shepherd's Bush officers were forced to use a megaphone to disperse large crowds of people sunbathing on the green, clearly not abiding by the rules of the lockdown set by the Prime Minister.

From a police van, an officer said: 'You can't stay on the green, can you all go home. Can you all go home please this is not a holiday, it's a lockdown, which means you don't just come here and sunbathe. Please just leave.'  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today launched a drive for a 250,000 strong 'volunteer army' to boost the NHS and stop it being swamped amid the coronavirus crisis.

He said he wanted helpers to come forward to bolster local services - as he also revealed that a new hospital, the NHS Nightingale, is being created at the Excel centre in London.

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • Builders across the UK have said they feel 'angry and unprotected' as they continued working on busy construction sites 
  • Britain was placed under new draconian measures which to keep people indoors, including allowing outside exercise only once a day, social gatherings of more than two people banned, and non-essential travel prohibited, with police handed powers to slap offenders with fines; 
  • Londoners continued to cram into packed Tube carriages during this morning's rush-hour, with union chiefs calling on Sadiq Khan to get a grip of the capital's public transport; 
  • The Mayor of London came under fire for blaming commuters for flouting advice over non essential travel; 
  • Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt demanded more NHS workers were tested for coronavirus, which has killed 335 and infected 6650 in the UK; 
  • Supermarket websites crashed and delivery slots were booked solid for weeks as lockdown begun; 
  • Sports Direct insisted it was providing an essential service and tried to open it stores, but was forced to U-turn under pressure from the government; 
  • The FTSE 100 opened up 4 per cent as investors seemingly took confidence in the PM's measures. 
People walk in the sunshine at Battersea Park in South West London today on the first day of the UK coronavirus shutdown

People walk in the sunshine at Battersea Park in South West London today on the first day of the UK coronavirus shutdown 

A packed London Underground Central line train this morning as commuters still use public transport today

A packed London Underground Central line train this morning as commuters still use public transport today

Visitors to an outdoor gym exercise on Clapham Common in South West London this afternoon

Visitors to an outdoor gym exercise on Clapham Common in South West London this afternoon

A cramped Tube on the Central line this morning as people travelled into work on the Underground as early as 5am

A cramped Tube on the Central line this morning as people travelled into work on the Underground as early as 5am

Police disperse a group in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre today as officers enforce Boris Johnson's new powers to stop groups of more than two people congregating

Police disperse a group in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre today as officers enforce Boris Johnson's new powers to stop groups of more than two people congregating

In shocking footage, Shepherd's Bush officers were forced to use a megaphone to disperse large crowds of people sunbathing on the green, clearly not abiding by the rules of the lockdown set by the Prime Minister

In shocking footage, Shepherd's Bush officers were forced to use a megaphone to disperse large crowds of people sunbathing on the green, clearly not abiding by the rules of the lockdown set by the Prime Minister

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said home is now the 'front line' in the fight against coronavirus, as he urged people to come together to reduce the number of people in the UK who will die from the spread of the infection.

But he issued a stark warning, saying stricter measures introduced by the Prime Minister on Monday were not advice but rules that must be followed.

He told MPs in the Commons: 'The spread of coronavirus is rapidly accelerating across the world and in the UK.

'The actions we took yesterday are not actions that any UK government would want to take but they are absolutely necessary. Our instruction is simple: stay at home.'

He said people should only be leaving their home for four reasons - shopping for essentials such as food and medicine, one form of exercise per day, medical need or to provide care to a vulnerable person, and travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Mr Hancock said: 'These measures are not advice, they are rules and will be enforced including by the police, with fines starting at £30 up to unlimited fines for non-compliance.'

He continued: 'We are engaged in a great national effort to beat this virus, everybody now has it in their power to save lives and protect the NHS. Home is now the front line.

'In this national effort, working together, we can defeat this disease, everyone has a part to play.'

His comments come as some trains on London's Tube network were crowded again this morning despite Boris Johnson placing the UK on a lockdown. 

A group of men set up for a barbecue this afternoon in West Hampstead, North West London, despite the new UK rules

A group of men set up for a barbecue this afternoon in West Hampstead, North West London, despite the new UK rules

West Midlands Police had to step in to disperse a large group of people having a barbecue in the Foleshill area of Coventry

West Midlands Police had to step in to disperse a large group of people having a barbecue in the Foleshill area of Coventry

Police moved apart the group in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, today with people warned they could be fined £1,000

Police moved apart the group in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, today with people warned they could be fined £1,000

A group of young men are spoken to by Kent Police officers before being dispersed from a children's play area in Mote Park, Maidstone,

A group of young men are spoken to by Kent Police officers before being dispersed from a children's play area in Mote Park, Maidstone,

But in Southend today groups hugged and kissed (pictured) despite Government warnings not to come within two metres or congregate in groups larger than two

But in Southend today groups hugged and kissed (pictured) despite Government warnings not to come within two metres or congregate in groups larger than two

Police officers patrol in an empty Trafalgar Square, which would usually be teeming with tourists

Police officers patrol in an empty Trafalgar Square, which would usually be teeming with tourists

The Prime Minister ordered people only to leave their homes for 'very limited purposes', banned public gatherings of more than two people and ordered the closure of non-essential shops.

But police chiefs warned of phone lines being inundated with calls last night with questions about what movements are still permitted, while MPs also called for answers.

Frontline officers are being 'spat and coughed at' as coronavirus is 'used as a weapon' 

Police attempting to deal with a serious incident in West Yorkshire were spat and coughed at by a large crowd they were trying to disperse.

West Yorkshire Police PC Rachel Storey posted on Twitter: 'So whilst scene guarding at a serious incident tonight we were faced with large crowds shoulder to shoulder, spitting on the floor and coughing at us when asking them to move back.

'Yes coughing then the target of egg throwers on passing motorbikes.... just WHY? no excuse!'

Police Sergeant Charlotte Nicholls added: 'It was just vile..I had to wash my boots last night when I got home as I couldn't stop thinking about the amount of spit id stood in!!'

PC Storey replied: 'I know I've also sprayed them with Dettol it's hard enough without this'.

A Sussex Police officer was also coughed at on Thursday morning by a driver he had pulled over on the M25 who claimed to have Covid-19.

The van driver, who was stopped for using his phone, was found to have no vehicle tax from 2018, no MOT and an illegal tyre.

Pictures on social media suggested that many people in the capital were continuing to use the Underground to travel around, prompting a desperate plea from London Mayor Sadiq Khan: 'I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.'

Senior police figures have warned that the stringent measures, similar to those already in place in Italy, will be 'challenging' with forces across the UK having far fewer officers to call upon than authorities in Rome - with shortages of up to 20,000 officers.

Mr Apter told the BBC today:  It's going to be really tough and what we have to get across to the public is that as far as policing is concerned it is not business as usual.

'The normal things my colleagues, officers, would normally go to, we need to decide what it is we cannot go to any more.

'Because dealing with this partial lock-down is going to put incredible amounts of pressure on my colleagues - and they are up for this.'

His warning came after former GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy contrasted the police numbers in Italy with those here.

Sir Peter told BBC Breakfast: 'If you compare us to Italy, we have about half the number of police officers that they have. 

'We don't have a paramilitary police force like the Carabinieri. Our police officers are already very stretched.

'I think the Government needs to continue to close down businesses and other parts of operations to limit the places that people can be going, but absolutely at the same time reinforcing the message and clarifying as far as possible all those individual issues.

'We don't really want 43 separate police forces in England and Wales interpreting this in different ways and individual officers being faced with real dilemmas about whether to allow this or not to allow it.'

Groups were also  exercising in the spring sunshine in Fulham today - but were not sticking to the maximum of two people together at one time

Groups were also  exercising in the spring sunshine in Fulham today - but were not sticking to the maximum of two people together at one time 

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make tough decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible

Police Federation of England and Wales chairman John Apter said officers would have to make tough decisions about law and order as they were called upon to keep people at home as much as possible

Boris Johnson's coronavirus lockdown backed by 93 PER CENT of the public - poll finds

Boris Johnson's coronavirus lockdown is backed by 93 per cent of Britons, according to a poll today.

But in a potentially worrying sign for the PM, two-thirds believe that the extraordinary curbs will be easy to obey. 

The announcement by the PM last night mean that everyone must stay inside unless it is absolutely essential.

Gatherings of more than two people have been banned in the most dramatic restrictions on freedom ever seen in Britain in time of peace or war. 

But research by YouGov shows the measures have overwhelming endorsement from the public,

'It will require a huge amount of public support, public acceptance and public compliance because if officers are going to be dispersing groups they are going to be asking about things like 'is there a power of arrest?' and that will then tie up more and more officers.

'So, really, there is no way that this can be achieved through enforcement alone. 

'It will have to be that the public hugely accept it and the government continues to issue clarification and reinforces the message.' 

Police have also warned that they will have to ignore other crime if they are switched to focusing on coronavirus.  

London Mayor Sadiq Khan today said that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation. 

Police officers will get new powers to issue the fines and make such arrrests when the Coronavirus Bill becomes law on Thursday. 

They will reportedly start at £30 but rise sharply to four figures if the public fail to heed orders to stay at home. 

Travellers in the capital could not stick to social distancing on their Tube journey to work this morning, hours after the Prime Minister warned all but essential workers to stay at home.

Mr Khan demanded that employers enable their staff to work from home 'unless it's absolutely necessary', adding: 'Ignoring these rules means more lives lost. Some of the people on the Tube yesterday and today are not essential workers, I can tell you that'. He added that many packed on to trains appeared to be heading to building sites.

Coronavirus UK: New lockdown measures in full

Boris Johnson tonight announced a lockdown plan to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the UK as he told the nation to stay at home. 

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following 'very limited' purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day.

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile, the PM has announced a ban on: 

Meeting with friends. 

Meeting with family members you do not live with. 

All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals. 

All gatherings of more than two people in public.  

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings. 

To ensure people comply the government is also: 

Closing all shops selling non-essential goods. 

Closing all libraries, playground,  outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but will be patrolled.  

He added that if people continue to flout the rules police should check ID of workers and use their powers to disperse crowds, which include issuing fines or even arresting those who should be in self-isolation.

Many people were nose-to-nose with people on the Tube, trains and buses as well as platforms despite being told to be two metres apart to avoid catching coronavirus, which has claimed 335 lives so far.            

The government has come under pressure to urgently clarify who it counts as a 'key worker' after Britons woke up in a state of confusion over who is permitted to leave home.

Many construction workers are operating in environments where social distancing is impossible, leaving them fearful of spreading the deadly disease which has killed 335 and infected over 6,000.

Labourers on lunch break at a building site in Battersea, London, were even pictured squeezed around canteen tables just inches from each other.

Some said they felt compelled to come in for fear of losing their jobs, with one telling MailOnline: 'It's mad that we have to carry on as normal while everyone at the office sits at home.'

As well as builders, non-essential delivery drivers were also on the roads today, with high street chains John Lewis, H&M, Debenhams and Boux Avenue all maintaining normal services.

Last night in his historic address to the nation, Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay at home unless travelling to work was 'absolutely necessary'. 

It was wrapped into an emergency package of draconian measures to keep people indoors to stem the tide of coronavirus infection, which threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

But the wriggle room left by the Prime Minister over exactly who was allowed to travel was seized upon by many workers who continued to commute to their jobs this morning. 

Responding to claims that details of the lockdown were 'murky', Michael Gove, the minister for the cabinet office, said: 'It is the case that construction should continue on sites.

'People should obviously exercise sensitivity and common sense and follow social distancing measures. But construction sites carried out in the open air can continue'.

He also confirmed that plumbers could continue to carry out emergency repair jobs so long as they observed the two-metre distancing policy. 

Yet images from the first day of lockdown showed construction staff huddling together on sites, brazenly flouting social distancing guidelines.

Police gather at Newcastle's Monument, moving on people who gather in a bid keep the population social distancing in order to stop the coronavirus spreading on Monday

Police gather at Newcastle's Monument, moving on people who gather in a bid keep the population social distancing in order to stop the coronavirus spreading on Monday

The Government has set out its key worker definition to battle coronavirus - but many believe it is too vague and is leaving many schools and parents confused about who is eligible

The Government has set out its key worker definition to battle coronavirus - but many believe it is too vague and is leaving many schools and parents confused about who is eligible

Matt Hancock today launched a drive for a 250,000 strong 'volunteer army' to boost the NHS and stop it being swamped amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The Health Secretary said he wanted helpers to come forward to bolster local services - as he announced that nearly 12,000 former medical staff had returned to increase capacity in the face of the disease.

Mr Hancock also revealed that a new temporary hospital, NHS Nightingale, at the Excel centre in London will be opened to the first patients next week.

The news came as Mr Hancock held a press conference in Downing Street - although the questions were posed over video link as part of new government guidelines to stop spread. 

Mr Hancock said his 'heart goes out' to families of those who had died, after it was announced that the UK's  toll had jumped to 422 in the biggest daily rise yet.

The Cabinet minister said of the government's draconian new lockdown: 'They are not requests, they are rules… everyone has a responsibility to follow those rules and where possible stay at home.' 

Unveiling the 'NHS Volunteers' drive, Mr Hancock said: 'We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health to help the NHS, for shopping, for the delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielding to protect their own health.'

He said 11,788 recently retired NHS staff had responded to the appeal from the government to return to the service.

They included 2,660 doctors, more than 2,500 pharmacists and other staff and 6,147 nurses.

'I pay tribute to each and every one of those who is returning to the NHS at its hour of need,' Mr Hancock said.

Some 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses would 'move to the frontline' next week. 

Mr Hancock said the new makeshift hospital at the ExCel centre would be called the NHS Nightingale Hospital and would be open by next week.

He said it would have two wards and have a capacity for 4,000 people. It is understood it will be up and running by Saturday 4th April.

He said: ‘We will next week open a new hospital, a temporary hospital.

Drive for 250,000 'army of volunteers' to prop up NHS services 

Matt Hancock today launched a drive for a 250,000 strong 'volunteer army' to boost the NHS and stop it being swamped amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The Health Secretary said he wanted helpers to come forward to bolster local services - as he announced that nearly 12,000 former medical staff had returned to increase capacity in the face of the disease.

Mr Hancock also revealed that a new temporary hospital, NHS Nightingale, at the Excel centre in London will be opened to the first patients next week.

The news came as Mr Hancock held a press conference in Downing Street - although the questions were posed over video link as part of new government guidelines to stop spread.  

Unveiling the 'NHS Volunteers' drive, Mr Hancock said: 'We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health to help the NHS, for shopping, for the delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielding to protect their own health.'

He said 11,788 recently retired NHS staff had responded to the appeal from the government to return to the service.

They included 2,660 doctors, more than 2,500 pharmacists and other staff and 6,147 nurses.

'I pay tribute to each and every one of those who is returning to the NHS at its hour of need,' Mr Hancock said.

Some 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses would 'move to the frontline' next week. 

'The NHS Nightingale hospital will comprise two wards each of 2,000 people.

‘With the help of the military and with NHS clinicians we will make sure we have the capacity we need so that everyone can get the support they need.

‘But no matter how big we grow the NHS unless we slow the spread of this virus then as we have seen those numbers will continue to rise and that is why it is so important everyone follows the advice and stays at home.’   

Mr Hancock also delivered a stinging rebuke to the London Mayor saying the underground system should be running 'in full' so essential workers do not have to be close together. 

The jibe came after another day of chaotic scenes in the capital where 'health hazard' carriages were rammed despite the unprecedented shutdown of British society. 

But Mr Khan has blamed commuters for flouting a ban on 'all non-essential travel' and urged people to avoid rush hour 'to save lives' - claiming he does not have enough staff to return services to normal.   

Mr Hancock went on the attack as he was asked at a Downing Street press conference this evening why NHS staff and other key workers were being forced to put themselves at risk on crowded transport.

He said: 'When it comes to the Tube, the first and the best answer is that Transport for London should have the Tube running in full so that people travelling on the tube are spaced out and can be further apart - obeying the two-metre rule wherever possible.

'And there is no good reason in the information that I've seen that the current levels of tube provision should be as low as they are. We should have more tube trains running.'

The chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation last night cast doubt on officers' ability to deal with Boris Johnson's lockdown - meaning the Army may need to help enforce the strict new coronavirus measures. 

In his address to the nation Mr Johnson said if people do not follow the new rules officers 'will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings'. 

Police will be able to fine people £30 if they ignore the rules and these on-the-spot fines will be 'ramped up' if there is widespread flouting, the government has said.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the lockdown plans would be 'very difficult' and he was already seeing 'large amounts of sickness' among officers across London.

He told the BBC: 'As you quite rightly point out, we haven't seen one of the 24,000 officers that we lost across the country.

'So it will be very, very challenging and very difficult for us with what's put in front of us.

'But we don't actually know what is being put in front of us yet other than we're going to be asked to disperse crowds, it's going to be a real, real challenge.' 

Michael Gove forced to apologise after WRONGLY saying children of separated parents cannot travel between homes

Michael Gove was forced to apologise this morning after telling separated parents their children cannot travel between their homes during the coronavirus lockdown - because they are allowed to. 

The Cabinet Office Minister appeared on GMB after Boris Johnson's momentous decision last night to bring in the most stringent peacetime restrictions on the UK's way of life.

The Prime Minister ordered all but essential workers to remain at home and cease all non-essential travel to combat the spread of the virus, which has so far killed 335 Britons.

But questioned by Susannah Reid Mr Gove told GMBs audience, which includes a high number of anxious mothers and fathers, that youngsters would not be allowed out of one parent's home to go to the other, if they lives apart.

But this caused an uproar, as official advice issued by the Government last night said that under-18s are among those allowed out of homes if they need to go to their other parent.

Mr Gove swiftly took to Twitter after his interview to say: 'I wasn't clear enough earlier, apologies.

'To confirm - while children should not normally be moving between households, we recognise that this may be necessary when children who are under 18 move between separated parents. 

'This is permissible and has been made clear in the guidance.'

In his address to the nation Mr Johnson said you will be allowed to leave your home for the four very limited reasons: 

  • Shopping for basics, as infrequently as possible;
  • Exercise, such as running, walking or cycling, once a day– alone or with those you live with;
  • Travelling to or from work where it is impossible to work from home;
  • To care for a vulnerable person or attend an urgent medical appointment.

Mr Marsh told Sky News that he believed the Army could be drafted should police numbers fall due to illness.

He said: 'The Army are already in place on the outskirts of London and across the country. And I don't doubt again for one minute that they will be called if needed.

'Because if we start losing large numbers in policing terms, through isolation and actually having Covid-19, then they are going to step in and support us in some way.

'It could be tailored in quite quickly and I would save that everything is on the table.'

The Prime Minister intervened with the new restrictions after pictures emerged this week showing people taking advantage of the warm weather on parks and beaches and flouting government guidelines on social distancing.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he 'could not imagine' how officers would police the ban on gatherings of more than two people.

Referring to Health Secretary Matt Hancock's earlier comments that police require people to follow the rules, he said: 'I would urge politicians to think before they make such bold statements.

'I just cannot rationally think how that would work.' 

The Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police tweeted: 'Please do not cripple our phone lines with enquiries as to what you can and cannot do during the conditions imposed by the Prime Minister this evening.

'As soon as we have further clarity on permitted movements, we will upload a specific page on our web site.'

Humberside Police said: 'We've had many calls on our 101 line from people seeking answers, but at this stage we are not able to answer all of your enquiries.' 

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, added: 'Measures to ensure social distancing have so far not had the necessary effect.

'These new measures are sensible, based on scientific evidence and give people clarity on the exact steps they must take to stop the rapid transmission of this disease.

'The majority of people are already making real sacrifices to save lives and we urge everyone to follow the advice that is designed to keep us all safe.

'We are working with the government and other agencies to consider how these new rules can be most effectively enforced.'0.qa

Police parked at the gates to Greenwich Park on March 22, after people were urged not to visit their mother's

Police parked at the gates to Greenwich Park on March 22, after people were urged not to visit their mother's

Boris Johnson plunged the UK into coronavirus lockdown tonight - ordering the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods as well as playgrounds and churches

Boris Johnson plunged the UK into coronavirus lockdown tonight - ordering the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods as well as playgrounds and churches 

On Monday evening the Prime Minister detailed a short list of reasons why individuals can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials items on Monday evening.

He ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities 'as infrequently as possible' and to perform one form of exercise a day.

Or they could seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if 'absolutely necessary', he said in a televised address from within Downing Street.

'That's all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home,' he said.

'You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

'If you don't follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.'

To ensure people follow the rules, Mr Johnson ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing.

All public gatherings of more than two people - other than those they live with - will be barred, the PM said.

Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.

Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease's spread.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be 'under constant review' and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks' time if the evidence allows.

He said that 'no prime minister wants to enact measures like this' as he reminded the public of the support programme to aid ailing businesses and struggling individuals.

But he said the drastic new measures allowing people to only leave home for the 'very limited purposes' were necessary to slow the spread of the disease.

'To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,' he added.

Couples are BANNED from staying at each other's houses, 'immediate family' only at funerals and £30 fines and threat of court for anyone found in a group in public - the reality of Boris Johnson's lockdown rules

The reality of Boris Johnson's coronavirus lockdown started to become clear today as boyfriends and girlfriends who do not live together were told not to visit each other's homes. 

The Prime Minister last night urged the nation to stay at home and said people should only leave for food, medicine, exercise or work if 'absolutely necessary'. 

He also announced a ban on all social gatherings of more than two people in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of the deadly disease.  

Boris Johnson last night put the UK into a state of lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus

Boris Johnson last night put the UK into a state of lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus

The practical ramifications of the measures are now starting to sink in with Number 10 today telling people who are dating that they should not visit their partner's house. 

You can’t see your boyfriend or girlfriend, but do still have to go to work, says Number 10 

The government today advised boyfriends and girlfriends who do not live together not to visit each other but advised workers to carry on working. 

Downing Street said lockdown guidance was clear that people should only leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise or to go to work if 'absolutely necessary'. 

No10 said that made it clear that couples who do not live together should not be going to each other's house.  

However, the government remains adamant that people should continue to go to work if they cannot work from home. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that 'where people absolutely cannot work from home, they can still go to work, indeed it's important that they do to keep the country running'. 

However, it is currently unclear whether they are allowed to meet in public under the government's two person gathering rules with Downing Street insistent it will now clarify the matter. 

Meanwhile, the government has confirmed police will be able to impose fines of £30 on anyone who does not comply with the ban on groups. 

And minsters are warning they will increase those fines 'significantly' if people ignore what they have been told.  

The government also today said that only small numbers of people can attend funerals, clarifying official advice issued last night which said 'immediate family' could attend.

The lockdown imposed on the UK by the PM represents the most sweeping restriction of social freedoms ever in peacetime.

But what the new rules actually mean for people in terms of how they live their lives is still becoming apparent. 

The guidance issued by the government said people should only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities, for one form of exercise a day, for any medical need or for work if 'absolutely necessary'.

It did not mention any exemption for people who are in a relationship but who do not live together. 

Downing Street insists funerals must be small

The government today insisted that funerals must only be attended by a small number of people during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Official guidance issued last night said funerals should only be open to 'immediate family'. 

But Downing Street today clarified the advice and said it will be at the discretion of families to decide who should attend. 

However, officials were adamant the number of people attending must be kept to a minimum. 

Downing Street today said the guidance was 'clear' and the 'rules should be applied to all scenarios’ in a clear hint that people should not be visiting partners. 

Asked to clarify the situation, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: ‘I think the rules are clear. You should look at those, they are an instruction from the government given for a very specific reason which is to save lives.

‘People should follow the rules and do so in a common sense way.’

The spokesman said the guidance stated that when people leave their homes they should either do so alone or 'with members of your own household or if it is for work reasons’. 

However, Downing Street said it needed to check whether couples could be allowed to meet up in public.

The government has vowed to stop all gatherings of more than two people in public, potentially leaving the door open to couples - assuming they stay two metres away from each other.   

Anyone in a group of more than two people in public will now face a fine of £30 if they are spotted by the police. 

The new fining powers will be in place by Thursday at the latest with Downing Street today insistent the £30 figure will be increased if people do not comply. 

Meanwhile, anyone who refuses to pay the fine could be forced to appear in court. 

The PM's official spokesman said: 'It will be a fixed penalty notice, it will initially start at £30 but we will keep this under review and can increase it significantly if it is necessary to ensure public compliance.'

He added: 'Failure to pay the notice could be subject to criminal proceedings and a summary conviction.' 

On the issue of funerals, the government's guidance said only 'immediate fa

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