Britain's 66million people are today beginning a new life in coronavirus lockdown after Boris Johnson ordered the immediate closure of all non-essential shops and threatened people with fines or even arrest if they do not 'stay at home'.
The Prime Minister's shutdown will last for a minimum of three weeks and the UK's new state of emergency is unprecedented in modern history.
Gatherings of more than two people will be banned in the most dramatic curbs on freedom ever seen in Britain in time of peace or war, as the government goes all out to stop the spread of the killer disease, which has claimed 335 lives.
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In a grim address to the nation from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: 'Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won't be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses', adding: 'I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home'.
He said any family reunions, weddings, baptisms and other social events must be cancelled to stop the NHS collapsing under the strain. Funerals can go ahead attended by just a handful of closest relatives.
People must only leave their homes for essential supplies, medical help, or to travel to work if it is 'absolutely' unavoidable. Going out for exercise will be allowed once a day, but parks will be patrolled to make sure there is no abuse of the rules.
Police will have powers to fine those who do not fall into line, and disperse any public gatherings, in measures to curb movement only seen during the Second World War. Historians have claimed you have to go back to 1666 to find when people were last forced to stay at home en masse, when Britons had to stay at home for 40 days to halt the spread of the Great Plague.
The PM was finally forced into the draconian move amid fury that many people are still flouting 'social distancing' guidance, with parks and Tube trains in London - regarded as the engine of the UK outbreak - still busy despite repeated pleas.
'Though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all - the time has now come for us all to do more,' Mr Johnson said.
'From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home.
'Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.'
Millions of people will receive a text from the Government today urging them to stay at home.
Ministers have agreed a deal with phone operators to send the alert carrying Boris Johnson’s warning to every mobile in the country
The government's Cobra emergency committee met at 5pm and signed off the extraordinary new restrictions - similar to those which have already been imposed across the rest of Europe.
They will last for three weeks initially - but the government's own experts have suggested the situation could take up to a year to resolve.
The stringent limits, which came after weeks of mounting pressure for the PM to escalate the response, were welcomed across the political spectrum - in itself a sign of the unprecedented times the country is enduring. However, police officers cautioned that their task would be 'challenging'.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the rules on who was allowed to travel to work was too loose, suggesting construction employees might feel they were not covered by the ban.
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My view: Stay home and stay safe, it's better safe than sorry.