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PM Says UK Should Avoid Non-Essential Travel And Contact
Christian Eede , March 16th, 2020 18:15

55 people with COVID-19 have now died in the UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given a press conference, outlining that people in the UK should avoid clubs, bars, pubs, restaurants, theatres and other such social venues in the coming weeks, starting this week, as the UK looks to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, AKA COVID-19.

People should work from home where possible and avoid all non-essential travel and contact with others. Pregnant women, people over the age of 70 and people with certain health conditions should consider the advice "particularly important," Johnson said, with those most at-risk expected to be asked within days to stay home for up to 12 weeks.

Johnson was giving the first in what is to be a series of daily coronavirus briefings, and said that "drastic action" was needed as the UK approaches "the fast growth part of the upward curve" in the number of cases. It's hoped that taking social distancing measures now will help ease the pressure on the NHS.

Importantly however, Johnson's measures did not include an order for clubs, bars, pubs and other venues to temporarily close. This could cause great financial difficulty for small, independent businesses which will see a drop-off in attendees and very possibly have no means of seeking financial payouts, for example from insurance companies, as a result of taking it upon themselves to cancel events.

"The prime minister's latest advice on mass gatherings has resulted in huge uncertainty and confusion over what exactly it will mean for the music industry," acting chief executive Tom Kiehl told the BBC. "The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place."

He continued: "The virus is having a catastrophic impact on the UK music industry and will threaten many jobs and businesses across our right across our sector."

This is criticism of Johnson's stance echoed by Michael Kill, chief executive of the UK's Night Time Industries Association, a body which aims to support clubs, bars, live music venues and pubs. "The industry feel like we've been hung out to dry," he told The Guardian. "We're happy to take into account public safety but we also have to consider the survival of businesses.

"It will have a devastating impact on an industry worth billions of pounds to the economy. It's taken years of growth and entrepreneurial spirit to get to this point, and now what's happening is the government has turned its back on us."

It's not yet known exactly how long these measures will have to remain in place. Further stringent measures may also be enforced to help control the spread of COVID-19.

55 deaths have been linked to the contraction of COVID-19 in the UK so far.

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