The measures, which came into force last night, will remain in place for at least three weeks, after which they will be reviewed. They will only be relaxed if the evidence shows this as possible.
Police and other "relevant authorities" will be given new powers to enforce the measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
What has been announced?
As of 23 March, people in the UK will only be permitted to leave their homes for one of four purposes:
- essential food shopping for basic necessities, no more than once per day;
- taking part in one form of exercise a day - for example running, walking or cycling - alone or with members of immediate household;
- for medical need or to provide essential care of a vulnerable person;
- travelling to and from essential work, only where absolutely necessary and where working from home is not possible.
The prime minister also announced:
- the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods – for example, clothes or electronics;
- the closure of other facilities, including libraries and playparks;
- a ban on gatherings of more than two people including weddings and baptisms, but with an exception for funerals;
- parks will be open for exercise, but gatherings dispersed.
Restaurants, pubs and bars were ordered to close on 20 March, with regulations enforcing closure in England in effect from 2pm on 21 March.
What does this mean for businesses?
All businesses listed in government guidance (6-page / 163KB PDF) in England and Wales must close, subject to the noted exceptions. The same required closures will be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland by ministerial direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force, but businesses in these jurisdictions have been told to close by the governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Where businesses in the exceptions remain open, they must comply with guidance from the government and Public Health England (PHE).