Minister: ‘People You Love May Die’ Unless You Stay Home

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 24: A sign on the M8 motorway advises motorists to avoid travel where possible on March 24, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon along with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures last night urging people to stay at home …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Michael Gove has warned Britons that unless they abide by government rules to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak, then the “people you love most may die”.

On Monday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a nationwide lockdown after people were widely reported to have ignored the government’s recommendations to practise social distancing in order to slow the spread of the deadly Chinese coronavirus.

Under strict new rules, gatherings of two or more people who do not live together have been banned. People may only leave their home once a day to exercise, buy groceries or medicines, or travel to work only if necessary. Only shops selling essentials must be open. The measures will be in place for at least three weeks and police have the power to enforce self-isolation if necessary.

However, widespread reporting on Tuesday revealed people still flouting the public health regulations, with London trains seen packed with commuters.

Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday morning, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove gave a stark warning to people who continue to ignore isolation rules: “Unless you stay at home, then the people you love most may die.”

Mr Gove continued: “Unless people take appropriate steps now, then the NHS will be under more strain. If the NHS is under more strain, then those that we love, those that we care for most, are at risk of losing their lives.”

“All of us will have someone in our lives who we know may be vulnerable because of age or other factors. We love them. We want them to stay safe. The best way of keeping them safe is to stay at home, to limit your time outside to one piece of exercise every day, or that minimum shopping,” he added.

The minister also addressed reports of people from cities flooding into the country and coastal towns, causing concern amongst communities and their MPs of the virus establishing itself in new locations.

“Stay at home,” Mr Gove said. “They should not be at risk of spreading the virus across the country and nor should they risk putting a strain on the NHS in other parts of the country. The advice is clear: stay at home,” he said.

Despite some not following the rules, a snap poll by YouGov revealed that the overwhelming majority of people, 93 per cent, were in support of the lockdown. Two-thirds of Britons (66 per cent) said they would be able to cope with going out only for food and exercise for the next three weeks.

Police will have the power to disperse groups or fine those who ignore the rules. Of those surveyed, Britons were split (39 per cent/39 per cent, 22 per cent “don’t know”) on whether those responses will be sufficient to enforce the lockdown.

As of Monday, there have been 336 deaths in the UK — a rise of 55 on the day before. The UK is approximately two weeks behind Italy, which is the viral epicentre for Europe and has seen more than 6,000 deaths.

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