UK to ban mass gatherings as coronavirus continues to spread

The ban could come in as early as next weekend

The British government is preparing to ban mass gatherings as coronavirus continues to spread.

The decision presents a u-turn in the government’s advice on the outbreak, with Boris Johnson previously allowing schools to remain open and large events to continue after meeting with Cobra on March 12.

Now, after organisers of happenings like the London Marathon, the Premier League, and a number of concerts have begun to postpone their events, Downing Street is reportedly drawing up plans to implement a ban. A Whitehall source told the Independent: “Ministers are working with the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week.

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“We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home. There are many complex considerations to make all these measures as effective as possible. We will make the right decisions at the right time based on the best scientific evidence.”

Following his meeting with Cobra earlier this week, Johnson said “scientific advice” suggested banning events “will have little effect on the spread”. The change in tact is said to be aiming to alleviate pressure on the emergency services in the UK.

The Whitehall source said: “We are concerned about the burden large events put on public services – including the health service and the police – from dealing with coronavirus. We have drafted emergency legislation to give the government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organisations. We will publish this legislation next week.”

It is not yet known what size event will be affected by the ban, how long it will be in place for, or when exactly it will begin. However, it is reported that the ban could come into place as early as next weekend (March 21). Similar bans are currently in place in the US, Australia, and across Europe, amongst other places.

At the time of writing, 798 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK. However, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, has said between 5,000 and 10,000 people could already be infected.

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Earlier this month, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said there was “no clear rationale” for cancelling events in the wake of the global pandemic.

Many concerts have been cancelled across the world in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. You can view a full list here.

Meanwhile, Yungblud – who cancelled his Asia tour because of coronavirus – has announced that he will perform on a live stream next week in lieu of being able to play in venues for his fans. “this is a time for our fookin hearts to be together because we are gonna beat this shit TOGETHER,” he wrote on Instagram. “having the ability to connect with you ain’t gonna get taken away. fuck that. i can’t wait to see you. tell ya fookin mates.”

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