PM Johnson tells cafes, pubs and restaurants to close tonight

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, Britain March 19, 2020. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told cafes, pubs and restaurants across the country to close on Friday night and to stay shut indefinitely to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are telling cafes, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,” Johnson told reporters in Downing Street. “Though to be clear, they can continue to provide takeout services.

“Some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight, and I say to those people, ‘please don’t,’” Johnson said.

He said the government had to enforce the closure of cafes, pubs, restaurants as well as gyms and leisure centres to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale,” Johnson said. “The sad thing is today, for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.”

Another 39 people have died in England after testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in the country to 167, the National Health Service said on Friday.

Johnson’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said the government was stepping in to pay businesses hit by the coronavirus outbreak not to lay off workers.

Reporting by Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle, writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison

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