March 20, 2020 5.15 pm This story is over 18 months old

Coronavirus shutdown: All bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas and gyms to close from tonight

The shutdown before lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all bars, pubs, clubs, cinemas and leisure facilities in the UK will close effective immediately on Friday evening to stop the spread of coronavirus. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open.

Boris Johnson did not mention shops, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak included shops in his speech on the measures. More clarity is expected soon.

Many businesses already closed this week and dozens of events have been cancelled, but some maintained delivery services.

The PM reaffirmed his ambition to turn the tide against coronavirus in the next three months. He acknowledged in his speech that people may be tempted to go out on Friday night, but urged people to stay at home.

But to slow the spread of coronavirus, these stronger measures are required to reduce unnecessary social contact.

These measures will “have a significant economic impact”, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who announced the government will step in to help to pay people’s wages.

Grants, backdated to March 1 will be available to cover 80% of the salaries of retained workers, up to £2,500 a month.

It’s hoped the initiative will entice business owners to support their staff and resist laying off workers.

He also said that he would defer the next quarter of VAT payments for businesses until the end of June.

More details will be announced soon.

The total number of people who have died in the UK after contracting coronavirus rose to 177. England saw 39 more deaths – the biggest rise in a day.

Schools already closed indefinitely at the end of Friday.

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