- The rapid spread of the coronavirus is causing governments around the world to implement dramatic measures to combat the virus.
- In the UK, Boris Johnson’s government is planning a series of drastic actions including bans on mass gatherings and large public events.
- Here are some of the radical measures Johnson’s government could introduce to British life.
- Follow the latest developments as coronavirus spreads across the UK.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The UK government this week revealed a series of dramatic measures it is preparing to take to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Right now Boris Johnson’s government is focused on delaying the spread of the virus and is retaining some of the more draconian measures for later use.
“You’ve got a range of things that you can do to arrest or check the spread of a disease,” Johnson said on Friday. “But you can’t fire your shots too early.”
However, many of the more extreme measures could be taken within weeks as the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the country.
Here are all the actions the UK government could soon take to combat coronavirus and how they could change the lives of British people.
Restricting human contact for 3 months
As part of plans to delay the spread of coronavirus, UK government officials are considering telling Brits to restrict human contact for a period lasting around 12 weeks.
Avoiding human contact could include limiting contact with vulnerable groups like the elderly, avoiding contact with people outside home and school, and even working from home for up to three months.
This is one of the measures the UK government is looking at as part of “population distancing” strategies, which are designed to reduce the amount of contact people have with each other.
Closing schools across the country
Several schools have already closed since coronavirus arrived in the UK.
A school in Gloucestershire, southern England closed for three days after a member staff tested positive. Schools in the north of England closed after pupils went on trips to Italy, where the coronavirus crisis is particularly severe.
Some other European countries, including Italy, have either already implemented widespread school closures, or are preparing to soon.
We can expect to see a similar surge in school closures in the UK over the coming weeks.
Banning large public gatherings
Johnson’s government is also considering banning large public gatherings to reduce human contact.
Some of Britain’s neighbours have already taken this step. The French government last weekend moved to ban gatherings of 5,000 people or more, resulting in the cancellation of the Paris half-marathon.
The UK government is reluctant to comment on specific events, amid concern that upcoming occasions like the London Marathon may have to be cancelled, as well as big major events later in the year like Glastonbury festival.
However, such measures are already being planned for.
Sporting events could take place behind closed doors — or not at all
Action to restrict big public gatherings could extend to sporting events.
Britain’s chief football authorities have reportedly held talks about fixtures taking place behind closed doors in the coming weeks. Representatives from the Premier League, Football League, and Football Association were present.
Everton FC’s chief financial officer said it was “likely” that Premier League games would be played in empty stadiums this month.
A more extreme step would be to cancel fixtures altogether.
Last weekend, the Italian government ordered the suspension of all sporting events until March 8, forcing the cancellation of games including high-profile football teams Juventus and Inter Milan.
The England rugby union team’s Six Nations game versus Italy in Rome has been postponed as a result of coronavirus.
The UK government said this week that it would tell people to avoid “unnecessary travel” should the virus spread.
A sharp reduction in people opting to travel has already had a huge impact. Airlines are wasting thousands of gallons on fuel on empty “ghost” flights across Europe in order to comply with aviation law, while UK airline Flybe has gone into administration.
Retired doctors and nurses asked to return to work
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
The UK government said on Tuesday that it was prepared to enlist retired health professionals to help the National Health Service deal with the crisis.
It said it would consider “emergency registration of health professionals who have retired” and “the introduction of emergency indemnity coverage for health care workers to provide care or diagnostic services.”
A fifth of employees off sick at any one time
The government estimates that at its peak, coronavirus could force up to 20% of Britain’s employees to be off work at one time, having a major detrimental effect on the country’s productivity and economy.
Police told to focus only on serious crime
An escalation in coronavirus would put extra pressure on Britain’s public services — including the police.
The UK government said this week that police officers would be forced to focus only on serious crime and maintaining public order if they are over-stretched by dealing with coronavirus.
Non-urgent hospital treatment postponed
Similarly, hospitals could be forced to postpone non-urgent health care if their resources are absorbed by the challenging of treating coronavirus patients, the UK government said this week.
There is concern among officials that coronavirus could result in Brits panic-buying food and essentials.
Britain’s supermarkets have drawn up contingency plans for responding to this prospect, The Guardian newspaper reported this week. They plan to limit the variety of foods available to consumers and instead focus on basic items.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe