Pubs, Restaurants and gyms to close tonight; government to pay 80% of wages of those not working

Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night, except for take-away food, to tackle coronavirus, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

All the UK’s nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been told to close “as soon as they reasonably can”.

Mr Johnson said the situation will be reviewed each month.

The chancellor has said the government will pay 80% of wages for employeeswho are not working, up to £2,500 a month.

The announcement about closures follows similar measures taken in other countries – including in Ireland, where pubs and bars were asked to close from last Sunday.

There have been 167 deaths in England from the coronavirus outbreak, as well as six in Scotland, three in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Johnson said the measures would be enforced “strictly” and that licensing arrangements will make doing so “relatively simple”.

He urged people not to go out on Friday night, stressing: “For now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.”

The prime minister added: “The more effectively we follow the advice we are given, the faster this country will stage both a medical and an economic recovery in full.”

Speaking at the same briefing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the new measures to help employees out of work were “unprecedented”.

He appealed to employers to stand by their workers during the coronavirus crisis, in the take of many firms warning of collapse.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, told reporters at the briefing that the government was not advising people against going outside.

“We are saying, if you are going to go outside, go in a way that reduces your social contact,” she said.

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