Mass gatherings WILL be banned from next weekend in dramatic government U-turn


All mass gatherings and sports events are set to be banned from next weekend, it can be revealed.

In a major escalation of the coronavirus crisis, ministers are preparing to introduce emergency legislation early next week to allow this.

The unprecedented move puts key summer events such as the Glastonbury Festival, VE Day commemorations, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon tennis championships, the Grand National and Royal Ascot under threat.

It comes after sports bodies confirmed the postponement of the London Marathon, the suspension of Premier League football matches and the cancellation of the England cricket team’s Sri Lanka tour.

As the number of coronavirus cases in the UK neared 800 and the death toll hit 11, it also emerged that officials are talking to businesses about ways to help millions work from home.  

The cranking up of the government’s response is also understood to hand police the powers to detain suspected virus victims ‘for a limited period’ if necessary stop them spreading the infection.

Council care homes will also be given the legal wriggle room to pare back their services if staff shortages make it impossible to continue providing current levels of support for their elderly residents. 

Boris Johnson’s U-turn last night came after he flatly refused on Thursday to replicate the stronger action being taken by other countries to curb big gatherings.

But he came under mounting criticism from health experts and politicians arguing that Britain was not doing enough to keep the public safe.

Only yesterday morning, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said cancelling large gatherings was ‘eye-catching’ but the chances of contracting coronavirus by attending such events were less than a visit to the pub.

A Whitehall source denied the Government was binning its previous scientific advice, saying the change of heart reflected concerns about the pressure mass gatherings put on police and ambulance services that may be depleted because of the virus.

‘We have drafted emergency legislation to give the Government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organisations,’ the source said. ‘We will publish this legislation next week.’

Despite the ban on large gatherings, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools would remain open to avoid parents having to take time off work and assured he was ‘particularly mindful’ of the strains being lumped on the NHS.

Such pressure was laid bare last night when it emerged hospitals could stop treating the most severely ill coronavirus victims if the outbreak escalates.

Patients with a poor prognosis may even be taken off ventilators in favour of those with better survival chances. 

The unprecedented move puts key summer events such as the Glastonbury Festival , VE Day commemorations, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon tennis championships, the Grand National and Royal Ascot under threat

The unprecedented move puts key summer events such as the Glastonbury Festival , VE Day commemorations, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon tennis championships, the Grand National and Royal Ascot under threat

All mass gatherings and sports events are set to be banned from next weekend, it can be revealed. Pictured: The Cheltenham Festival yesterday

All mass gatherings and sports events are set to be banned from next weekend, it can be revealed. Pictured: The Cheltenham Festival yesterday

Coronavirus fears are growing in the UK after Government officials warned the real number of people with the infection could be as high as 10,000. A man is pictured wearing a military gas mask on the London Underground

Coronavirus fears are growing in the UK after Government officials warned the real number of people with the infection could be as high as 10,000. A man is pictured wearing a military gas mask on the London Underground

A shopper has spoken of their shock after spotting a person wearing a full hazmat suit at a Somerset Tesco store amid the ongoing spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19

A shopper has spoken of their shock after spotting a person wearing a full hazmat suit at a Somerset Tesco store amid the ongoing spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19

EMERGENCY POWERS TO TACKLE CORONAVIRUS 

BAN MASS GATHERINGS

Big public events, likely those of more than 500 people, will be canned next weekend.

DETAINING SUSPECTED VIRUS VICTIMS

Police will be handed powers to detain coronavirus sufferers if necessary to stop the spread of infection.

FORCE SCHOOLS TO STAY OPEN

Ministers will be able to force schools to stay open if teachers defy the government and try to send pupils home.

LOWER CARE HOME STANDARDS

Staffing shortages due to coronavirus sickness leaves councils vulnerable to legal action if their services suffer as a result.

But the government is moving to lower this threshold to ensure dozens of authorities do not have the rule book thrown at them.    

FASTER BURIALS 

The government is putting in place measures to speed up burials and cremations. 

The raft of measures such as the ban on mass gatherings marked a step-change in the government’s approach to delay the spread of the virus.

There is no detail about which events could be affected and how many people would make a ‘mass gathering’, but the Prime Minister is believed to follow Scotland, which has enforced a limit of 500 for a gathering.

New York has also banned gatherings of more than 500 people, with any gathering under this cap required to cut its capacity by 50 per cent. 

In a further blow to Britons, Donald Trump mooted extending his European travel ban to the UK.  

Downing Street’s dramatic ramping up of efforts to tackle the outbreak came as:

  • A newborn baby in England has become the world’s youngest victim to test positive for coronavirus; 
  • Hospitals are rapidly increasing their intensive care capacity and doctors say wards already look like ‘war zones’ as they fill up with patients; 
  • The Queen cancelled her public engagements for the foreseeable future as a ‘sensible precaution’;
  • Police were set to be given emergency powers to detain suspected virus victims;
  • The boss of British Airways warned of job cuts amid a ‘crisis of global proportions like no other’; 
  • Alistair Darling, who was chancellor during the 2008 financial crisis, said the Government must consider massive bailouts for airlines and other affected firms; 
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools are staying open so parents don’t have to take time off to look after their children; 
  • Oxford University sent home all undergraduates, and some primary schools began temperature screening pupils at the gate; 
  • Donald Trump declared a national emergency on coronavirus to access $50billion of funds and mooted extending the travel ban to the UK; 
  • The World Health Organisation declared Europe the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a sign that the health crisis was trumping party politics, Labour last night welcomed the government’s tack to ban mass gatherings.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Newsnight: ‘I’m pleased the government has taken this decision this evening, I think it’s a sensible approach.

‘We know we are going to have to take some pretty drastic action to contain the virus, and we have to take the public with us. I think this is an important measure.’

People get swabbed at a drive-through coronavirus testing station set up near a branch of KFC in Wolverhampton. People who think they might have the virus have been told to avoid the city's hospital

People get swabbed at a drive-through coronavirus testing station set up near a branch of KFC in Wolverhampton. People who think they might have the virus have been told to avoid the city’s hospital

Travellers are pictured wearing masks at London Victoria station this morning – commuters around the country said train stations, carriages and car parks seemed deserted compared to normal

Travellers are pictured wearing masks at London Victoria station this morning – commuters around the country said train stations, carriages and car parks seemed deserted compared to normal 

The Government announced it had moved to the second phase of its coronavirus action plan – the 'Delay' phase (Pictured, Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, right)

The Government announced it had moved to the second phase of its coronavirus action plan – the ‘Delay’ phase (Pictured, Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, right)

ENGLISH BABY TESTS POSITIVE FOR VIRUS

The baby is being treated at North Middlesex Hospital where it was born, and the mother has been moved to a specialist infections hospital

The baby is being treated at North Middlesex Hospital where it was born, and the mother has been moved to a specialist infections hospital

A newborn baby in England has become the world’s youngest victim to test positive for coronavirus.

The child’s mother was rushed to hospital days ago with suspected pneumonia but her positive result was only known after the birth.

The pair are being treated at separate hospitals with the baby being treated at North Middlesex Hospital where it was born, and the mother being moved to a specialist infections hospital. 

After doctors learned of the mother’s positive result, the baby was tested very soon after its arrival, according to The Sun

Doctors are trying to establish how the newborn contracted the virus, either through the womb or during birth.  

A source said: ‘Staff in contact with both patients have been advised to self-isolate.’ 

Yesterday, France became one of the latest European countries to close all schools, universities and nurseries, after a similar move by Ireland on Thursday. 

The UK Government said it would not move to close schools yet as the evidence for its effectiveness is lacking, though this will be kept under review.

Mr Williamson said schools and universities ‘shouldn’t be closing’ as he urged education leaders to follow medical and scientific advice during the outbreak.   

As part of the new emergency powers, ministers will be able to force schools to stay open if teachers defy the government and try to send pupils home, according to the Times.  

The government is reluctant to close schools and will instead add an extra week either side of the upcoming Easter break, the Daily Telegraph reports.

This middle-of-the-road approach would reduce the amount of time that pupils are in classrooms – where they could spread the disease – without incurring the disruption of closing schools entirely.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said there was ‘real logic’ to extending existing holidays rather than shutting the schools. 

The Education Secretary will host a coronavirus summit on Monday in which plans may be made to give free food to the poorest pupils and allow schoolchildren to sit exams at home.  

Before the raft of measures were revealed last night, the government had come under fire for its response to coronavirus, particularly on keeping the schools open.

Rory Stewart, the former International Development Secretary, said: ‘We are being far too slow in an epidemic like this, you should be moving immediately with no regrets.

‘The earlier you shut schools, the earlier you stop gatherings, the better. Because it is common sense that the more people that meet with each other the more likely they are to pass on the disease.’ 

The package of emergency powers also reduces the standards local authorities are required to provide in their care homes, according to the Times.

Staffing shortages due to coronavirus sickness leaves councils vulnerable to legal action if their services suffer as a result.

But the government is moving to lower this threshold to ensure dozens of authorities do not have the rule book thrown at them. 

Although the government stopped short of preventing visitors to care homes, many – including 120 Bupa branches – unilaterally decided to impose a ban.

The newspaper also reported that measures will be put in place to mitigate against an ‘overwhelmed’ death management industry and speed up the burial and cremation processes. 

Coronavirus also sent the world of sport into meltdown yesterday as major fixtures across Britain and the globe were called off in a bid to stop the spread. 

All English football league matches were banned until April 4, next month’s London Marathon was postponed until October and the England cricket team’s Sri Lanka tour was cancelled. 

Regent Street in London – usually one of the busiest shopping streets in the country – appeared bereft of visitors yesterday after the Government said said the true number of people infected with the coronavirus could be as high as 10,000 already

Regent Street in London – usually one of the busiest shopping streets in the country – appeared bereft of visitors yesterday after the Government said said the true number of people infected with the coronavirus could be as high as 10,000 already

The area around London Bridge looked unusually quiet at 8am Friday morning after the Government yesterday announced many more will die from coronavirus

The area around London Bridge looked unusually quiet at 8am Friday morning after the Government yesterday announced many more will die from coronavirus

TRUMP DECLARES VIRUS NATIONAL EMERGENCY 

State of emergency: Donald Trump announced a state of national emergency in the Rose Garden at a hastily organized press conference

State of emergency: Donald Trump announced a state of national emergency in the Rose Garden at a hastily organized press conference 

Donald Trump declared a national emergency on coronavirus at a hastily-organized press conference in the White House Rose Garden – allowing him to access $50 billion in emergency funds and unveiling drive-thru testing in Walmart, Target and CVS parking lots.

But he said testing should not be available to everyone, directing people instead to a Google-run website to tell people what to do. When it will launch will be announced Sunday.

He also failed to address when adequate numbers of tests will finally arrive – and one of his advisers said the president only ‘realized’ there was a problem on Tuesday.

And then he threw medical guidelines on testing into chaos saying that he would get one himself – but not because he stood beside a Brazilian Mar-a-Lago guest who tested positive but ‘because I think I will do it anyway.’

Wall Street rebounded while the president spoke, responding positively to the measures he outlined after the Dow suffered its worst day since the 1987 recession earlier this week. 

The press conference was President Trump’s attempt to make amends for his missteps in his national address Wednesday night, when he misspoke about his own travel ban policy – requiring a correction – and leaving the nation uneasy about the steps his administration was taking to combat the disease.  

There were also farcical scenes in Australia yesterday as fans arrived for the start of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne to find it cancelled at the eleventh hour, with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton branding the situation ‘shocking’.

In football The Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all banned competitive play until next month.

It raises the prospect of the English football league severely overrunning or being suspended altogether. 

The FA called off two England friendlies at Wembley against Italy and Denmark on March 27 and 31 and two Champions League matches next week, when Manchester City were set to clash with Real Madrid and Chelsea with Bayern Munich, were also axed. Next week’s FA Cup quarter-finals were also cancelled.

In Rugby, today’s Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland is off.

England’s cricketers were last night on a plane home after their first test against Sri Lanka in Galle next week was cancelled along with the second test in Colombo the following week.

In racing, Formula 1 chiefs cancelled the Bahrain and Vietnam grand prixs following the farce in Melbourne. They were due to be held on March 22 and April 5.

Elsewhere the 2020 Masters golf tournament in the US, which was due to get underway on April 9 and feature the UK’s Rory McIlroy, was scrapped altogether.

Wimbledon and the Queen’s Club tennis tournaments are understood to be keeping the situation under review and have ensured insurance policies are in place to enable ticket refunds in the event they are cancelled or held behind closed doors.

UEFA officials will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday for talks over the fate of the month-long European Football Championships, which takes place every four years. FA officials are said to be keen on it being postponed until next year.

Olympics organisers remained defiant, however, insisting this year’s Games in Tokyo from July 24 until August 9 will still go ahead.

Other major fixtures came under pressure to clarify whether they were going ahead and if they will offer refunds to fans if cancelled.

The British Horseracing Authority said the Grand National would still take place on April 4, as will Royal Ascot in June. But they would almost certainly fall foul of the government’s new advice.

Organisers of the London Marathon confirmed it will move from April 26 to October 4, with runners able to use their places without any further payment. 

Most frail may not get critical care: Hospitals already look like ‘war zones’ and could stop treating the most severely ill coronavirus victims if the outbreak escalates, doctors warn 

By Eleanor Hayward and Ben Spencer for the Daily Mail 

Hospitals could stop treating the most severely ill coronavirus victims if the outbreak escalates.

Patients with a poor prognosis may even be taken off ventilators in favour of those with better survival chances.

Intensive care experts are drafting new triage guidelines ahead of an expected surge in urgent cases. Hospitals are rapidly increasing their intensive care capacity and doctors say wards already look like ‘war zones’ as they fill up with patients.

GPs have been ordered to hold all appointments by phone or video unless a physical examination is absolutely necessary.

Dr Shondipon Laha of the Intensive Care Society said professional bodies have been asked to write guidelines to triage patients if the number of cases rises much faster. 

This could even mean restricting treatment to those patients most likely to survive, as is already happening in Italy.

‘Should it come to deciding any kind of triaging system, it will be patient-based and survival-based,’ he said.

Hospitals could stop treating the most severely ill coronavirus victims if the outbreak escalates, it was revealed last night

Hospitals could stop treating the most severely ill coronavirus victims if the outbreak escalates, it was revealed last night

ROYAL VISITS PUT ON HOLD 

The Queen pictured at a previous Chelsea Flower Show, which could be scrapped this year

The Queen pictured at a previous Chelsea Flower Show, which could be scrapped this year

The Queen has cancelled her public engagements for the foreseeable future as a ‘sensible precaution’ given the coronavirus pandemic.

The 93-year-old had been due to visit Cheshire next week and Camden, north London, the following week but both visits have now been scrapped, Buckingham Palace announced yesterday.

Palace aides said yesterday that the Queen’s private weekly audiences with dignitaries such as the Prime Minister would continue.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have also postponed their official ten-day tour to Bosnia, Cyprus and Jordan at the request of the British Government.

And the Daily Mail has learned that royal officials are seriously considering not opening Buckingham Palace to members of the public this summer, which could lead to a large hole in royal finances.

A Palace spokesman said: ‘As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, changes are being made to The Queen’s diary commitments.’ 

‘Intensive care can be very invasive and severe before you get better, some people can’t tolerate this. Frail people especially struggle to tolerate being on a ventilator for two weeks.’

He said the guidelines, which will apply nationally, are being prepared by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and the Intensive Care Society. They must be endorsed by the GMC.

‘The basis of this is currently being discussed by the legal and ethical parts of both organisations,’ he added.

In another move, hundreds of thousands of routine operations are likely to be cancelled to free up wards.

And official guidance means patients in England will not be able to see their GP face to face without first being triaged over the phone or online.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, called on everyone to take responsibility and help the health service cope by washing their hands and staying at home if they have a cold.

He said: ‘There is no doubt that the scale of this virus means that the NHS is going to come under pressure. We all have a role to play in helping frontline staff help those people who need it most. 

‘We are already ramping up our response across the country, with preparations well underway, and we need the whole NHS family – from retired doctors to trainee nurses – to be ready to join the fight against this virus.

‘Coronavirus is now the single biggest challenge facing all European health services, and the NHS will be no exception. So we need the public to ask what they can do for the NHS, not just what the NHS will do for them.’

The health service has among the lowest number of intensive care beds in Europe per head of population, and makeshift units are being created to accommodate an extra 5,000 patients. 

‘Four in five of the 4,123 adult critical care beds in England were occupied before the coronavirus even arrived in the UK, NHS England figures show.

Italy has around 12.5 critical beds per 100,000 people, while the UK has just 6.6. Dr Laha, a consultant at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: ‘We have already seen a surge in demand, the situation has not been this bad since the 2009-2010 swine flu epidemic. The units have been full.

WORLD HEALTH CHIEFS SLAMS UK’S VIRUS RESPONSE 

The World Health Organisation has slammed Boris Johnson’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying every country should find and test every possible case.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister announced only the most seriously ill will be tested with others who notice symptoms encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days.

But on Friday, the WHO’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: ‘You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is.

‘Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of Covid transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.

‘Do not just let this fire burn,’ he said. ‘Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks “that won’t happen to us” is making a deadly mistake.’ 

‘It is already feeling like a war zone. There is that war mentality of everyone will do their best. Everyone is on a mission.’ 

He said that wearing protective equipment made treating patients ‘significantly more difficult’, adding: ‘Your vision can be obscured, it is hotter, more claustrophobic, sweatier.

‘Every hospital is planning how they’re going to escalate beds. We’re looking at stopping routine operations. Nationally cancellations are likely to start over the next few weeks.’

The Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care this week published guidance to doctors saying priority must be given to ‘the highest hope of life and survival’.

‘In a context of grave shortage of medical resources, the allocation criteria need to guarantee that those patients with the highest chance of therapeutic success will retain access to intensive care,’ it said.

Intensive care units are used to treat patients whose lives are at risk or whose organs have failed. Severe effects of coronavirus can lead to lung failure, as well as kidney and heart failure – all of which are soon fatal without intensive care treatment. Treatments require a ventilator to take over the patient’s breathing while they are put in a coma.

Yesterday guidance by four professional bodies recommended that anaesthetists join intensive care units to help combat staff shortages.

The staff union for the NHS, the GMB, has called for the requisition of all private hospital beds if needed.  

Easter holidays could be extended by TWO weeks but government also considers emergency measures to force schools to stay open if head teachers shut them unnecessarily in coronavirus pandemic

By Josh White, education reporter, for the Daily Mail

Schools are staying open so parents don’t have to take time off to look after their children, the Education Secretary said yesterday.

Gavin Williamson said he was ‘particularly mindful’ of increasing strain on the workforce of public services such as the NHS.

Meanwhile a new package of powers set to be unveiled next week could force schools to stay open during the crisis, The Times reports. 

The Education Secretary will host a coronavirus summit on Monday in which plans may be made to give free food to the poorest pupils and allow schoolchildren to sit exams at home. Mr Williamson will meet union leaders and school bosses to thrash out responses to worst-case scenarios.

But while Britain is keeping its schools open, other countries – including Ireland – are shutting down their education systems. 

Mr Williamson maintained that the ‘impact of closing schools on children’s education will be substantial, but the benefit to public health would not be’.

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference, Mr Williamson said: ‘I know your pupils will be worried about what all this means for their upcoming exams.

‘This is only to be expected, especially when so much hard work has gone into them. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything to make sure that this year’s exams are fair for students, and that their efforts will be fairly rewarded.’

He added: ‘Schools being open is important, especially for those children from the most disadvantaged communities.’

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, gave his backing to schools remaining open. ‘Young people are safest and are best served by focus on the routines, the rhythms of learning,’ he said.

Meanwhile, charities have written to the Government saying cash should be made available to help low-income families cope if schools are shuttered.

At least 1.5million children eligible for free school meals could be affected. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives at the Cabinet Office in London, March 12

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives at the Cabinet Office in London, March 12

The charities said direct cash transfers are ‘by far the most effective tool in order to aid families to weather the storm’ and are preferable to vouchers and funding for lunch clubs.

Headteachers demanded to know if exams will go ahead when the coronavirus peaks as a petition to close schools soared to 445,000.

Mr Barton had asked for clarity from the Government on whether GCSEs and A-levels will take place. 

He had said: ‘Parents and pupils are worried about being the victim of something out of their control and are asking, ”Will I get into college or university”?’

There were doubts over whether GCSEs and A-levels could be done outside school, with Mr Williamson saying the ‘integrity of the exam system’ was ‘vital’.

What coronavirus? Defiant Friday revellers hit the streets of London despite millions of workers staying at home today as pandemic grips Britain

By Amelia Wynne for MailOnline

Defiant Friday night revellers are still hitting the streets of London tonight despite the fact millions of workers stayed at home today over coronavirus fears.

Huge crowds gathered outside theatres this evening for popular West End shows near Leicester Square such as The Book of Mormom and Les Miserables.

So far the government has not banned theatre or cinema events taking place, with shows going ahead as normal.

Even though it was business as usual tonight in the capital it comes as millions of British workers stayed at home today as commuters found car parks empty, train carriages deserted and seats available on the busiest routes because of the coronavirus crisis.

Huge crowds gathered outside theatres this evening for popular West End shows near Leicester Square such as The Book of Mormom (pictured) and Les Miserables

Huge crowds gathered outside theatres this evening for popular West End shows near Leicester Square such as The Book of Mormom (pictured) and Les Miserables

This evening in the capital coronavirus panic did not seem to stop people enjoying a night out at the theatre. Pictured: people queue up to see Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre near Leicester Square

This evening in the capital coronavirus panic did not seem to stop people enjoying a night out at the theatre. Pictured: people queue up to see Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre near Leicester Square

Trafalgar Square would usually be full on a Friday but today it was exceptionally quiet as millions stayed away from central London

Trafalgar Square would usually be full on a Friday but today it was exceptionally quiet as millions stayed away from central London

Mainline railways stations in the UK’s towns and cities are largely empty as were Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports while major shopping streets in London usually teeming with people also eerily quiet.

Transport for London, who had a Jubilee Line train driver test positive for coronavirus today, has said that on buses and the Tube, used by 5million each day, journeys are down two per cent in a week.

As many as 20million of the country’s 33million working population could soon be working from home, according to an office survey by IWG Global Workplace. 

Social media users reported quieter than usual trains travelling to cities including London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham and Cambridge.

One Twitter user said: ‘It’s so quiet for the rush hour train to Newcastle … everyone in scarves or masks and you can tell the sheer fear has hit.’ Another wrote: ‘Eerily quiet on the trains this morning but business as usual on the ward. Has the feel of those weird days between Christmas and New Year.’ 

The mass stayaway came after the Prime Minister said people with even mild symptoms, including a continuous cough or high temperature, must stay at home for at least seven days.

Boris Johnson‘s guidance was issued yesterday with between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the UK already thought to be infected with coronavirus, when the official figures show 596 cases and ten deaths.   

The Government’s softer approach to shutting down communities when compared to other countries has triggered a row as critics including former ministers Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart branding the decision to keep schools open and not to ban major gatherings ‘concerning’ and ‘dangerous’. 

London Bridge station in central London was deserted during rush hour this morning as millions of people start to work from home

London Bridge station in central London was deserted during rush hour this morning as millions of people start to work from home

Kings Cross Station - the gateway to London from the north of England and east coast Scotland - was quiet as people worked from home

Kings Cross Station – the gateway to London from the north of England and east coast Scotland – was quiet as people worked from home

The deserted check-in at Gatwick's south terminal today where fewer and fewer people are flying due to coronavirus and thousands of flights to hotspots have been cancelled up until Easter

The deserted check-in at Gatwick’s south terminal today where fewer and fewer people are flying due to coronavirus and thousands of flights to hotspots have been cancelled up until Easter 

A man wearing a face mask is pictured on the usually-busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh as people stay away from public areas amid coronavirus worries

A man wearing a face mask is pictured on the usually-busy Royal Mile in Edinburgh as people stay away from public areas amid coronavirus worries

Edinburgh's Royal Mile is pictured almost deserted today after the Scottish Government yesterday announced it would ban large gatherings from next week

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is pictured almost deserted today after the Scottish Government yesterday announced it would ban large gatherings from next week

An empty train from Edinburgh Waverley to London King's Cross this morning as people chose or were told to work at homee

An empty train from Edinburgh Waverley to London King’s Cross this morning as people chose or were told to work at homee

Manchester Piccadilly train station is quiet at 8.30am this morning as workers stay at home in the north-west

Manchester Piccadilly train station is quiet at 8.30am this morning as workers stay at home in the north-west

Birmingham New Street is usually teeming with people but today it was far quieter than usual

Birmingham New Street is usually teeming with people but today it was far quieter than usual 

Old Bond Street only had a smattering of people walking along it as shoppers and tourists stayed away today

Old Bond Street only had a smattering of people walking along it as shoppers and tourists stayed away today

Arriving at Manchester Piccadilly train station this morning was project manager Rizwan Atcha, 37, who told MailOnline: ‘I’ve come from Bolton, the train was eerie.

‘Normally you can’t get any space but today there was more than usual. I’m assuming that was because of the virus. 

‘I have driven to Manchester before but it takes twice as long. In terms of taking the risk I’m ready to meet my maker.’ 

Nick Parker, 44, a mortgage lender from Buckingham, said: ‘I come through from Milton Keynes once or twice a week.

‘It was quieter than normal and so was the station, no one was acting strangely but that’s because there was only about four people in the carriage. You’ve just got to get on with things.’

Leszek Monouszko, 34, a flight attendant from Dubai, added: ‘I’ve come on the train from Manchester Airport, I came into Manchester yesterday as I work as a flight attendant.

‘I’m worried for my work but my health not so much. I think people our age should not be worried so much.’

While exact passenger numbers were not available, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed they are lower than usual.

A spokesman said: ‘Our primary focus during the coronavirus outbreak is to keep our passengers and our people safe, and the country moving.’

Stansted Airport is Ryanair's main UK hub but it was very empty today at a time where many would be heading abroad for the weekend

Stansted Airport is Ryanair’s main UK hub but it was very empty today at a time where many would be heading abroad for the weekend

A man walks through a sparsely populated arcade in Covent Garden this afternoon

A man walks through a sparsely populated arcade in Covent Garden this afternoon 

A quiet Regent Street on the afternoon of Friday the 13th as Britain entered the "delay" phase of emergency planning

A quiet Regent Street on the afternoon of Friday the 13th as Britain entered the ‘delay’ phase of emergency planning

A view of the empty Bluewater shopping centre near Dartford in Kent as fears grow over the spread of the coronavirus

A view of the empty Bluewater shopping centre near Dartford in Kent as fears grow over the spread of the coronavirus



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: