Topshop and Next scrap minimum spends and offer FREE home deliveries


Fashion brands are facing criticism today after offering customers free delivery, potentially putting both customers and drivers at risk of contracting coronavirus. 

High street giants Topshop, Currys PC World and Next are assuring customers their online businesses remain open, with all home deliveries and returns now free. 

Chains including John Lewis, H&M, Debenhams and Boux Avenue are also maintaining all normal delivery services. 

Amazon says it ‘working around the clock to continue to bring on additional capacity to deliver customer orders.’

But concerns have been raised that scrapping minimum spends online and offering free delivery could put drivers delivering non-food items at unnecessary risk.  

Critics also say customers are being put at risk – as the elderly and vulnerable are being forced to wait up to three weeks for food from Asda and Tesco.

Sainsbury’s and Ocado have both stopped taking deliveries from new customers.

Many stores are also continuing online sales, raising fears of a further influx in orders and shipments. 

Currys PC World has also been met with anger from social media users, who have accused the chain of failing to put people’s health first by keeping stores open. 

Meanwhile, ‘scared and confused’ Sports Direct workers today claim they feel their lives are ‘undervalued’ because they are still being made to work despite stores being closed to the public. 

Topshop says deliveries to a home address or a local ParcelShop will be free. This comes despite shops – which may offer the ParcelShop service – being told they must close unless they sell essential items

On its website, Next says: 'Our shops are now temporarily closed, but we are open as normal online. All deliveries to, and returns from your home will be free of charge at this time. You can order by 10pm for next day delivery to your home. Stay safe and take care.'

On its website, Next says: ‘Our shops are now temporarily closed, but we are open as normal online. All deliveries to, and returns from your home will be free of charge at this time. You can order by 10pm for next day delivery to your home. Stay safe and take care.’

Sports Direct workers received an email suggesting that they are key workers as the nation fights coronavirus (file image of owner Mike Ashley at the HQ in Shirebrook, Derbyshire)

Sports Direct workers received an email suggesting that they are key workers as the nation fights coronavirus (file image of owner Mike Ashley at the HQ in Shirebrook, Derbyshire) 

Currys PC World has also been met with anger from social media users, who have accused the chain of failing to put people's health first by keeping stores open

Currys PC World has also been met with anger from social media users, who have accused the chain of failing to put people’s health first by keeping stores open

Amazon hires an army of staff to cope during Covid-19 crisis

Amazon is hiring an army of 100,000 workers to cope with ‘unprecedented’ demand during the coronavirus crisis.

With shoppers switching to online deliveries to avoid having to visit public places, the firm said it was seeing a ‘significant’ jump in orders.

It said it will hire the new delivery and warehouse workers in the US to handle the extra business.

At the same time, it has handed temporary pay rise to workers around the world.

British staff are being encouraged to work overtime and will get £2 more per hour through April, Amazon said.

The company is also thought to be experiencing heightened demand in the UK, where the Governments is urging so-called ‘social distancing’ to slow the coronavirus’ spread, but a spokesman was unable to confirm whether it would take on more staff here.

It already employs around 30,000 people in the UK.

In a statement the US-based company said: ‘As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world… delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them.

‘Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues.

‘We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.

‘We are opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the US in our fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.

‘In addition to the new roles we’re creating, we want to recognize our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed. ‘ The company also said it would seek to hire people who had lost their jobs in other hard-hit parts of the economy, such as restaurants and hotels.

‘We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,’ Amazon added.

On its website, Next says: ‘Our shops are now temporarily closed, but we are open as normal online. All deliveries to, and returns from your home will be free of charge at this time. You can order by 10pm for next day delivery to your home. Stay safe and take care.’

Topshop says deliveries to a home address or a local ParcelShop will be free.  

This comes despite shops – which may offer the ParcelShop service – being told they must close unless they sell essential items. 

Next closed every one of its 700 UK stores at 6pm last night, until further notice. 

On Sunday Timpson announced that all 2,150 of its stores would ‘go into hibernation’ and Ann Summers said all stores would close and staff remain on full salaries until next month.

But B&Q and Screwfix stores remain open, with bosses introducing new social distancing measures in stores. 

John Lewis decided to close all 50 of its stores from close of business last night and HMV also said it would be temporarily closing its stores for trade from the end of Sunday, although its online business would continue.

Topshop employees were laid off after the Arcadia Group closed its 300 UK stores an hour before the Government announced its coronavirus job retention plan.

The group owned by billionaire Philip Green said in an emailed statement: ‘In line with many other retailers, the Group has made the difficult decision to close until further notice all of our stores from 4pm this afternoon.’

This includes Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, and Wallis.

Sports Direct chiefs had initially said stores would remain open because selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the firm a vital asset during a national shutdown.

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, had written to all workers within 30 minutes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down all non-essential retailers at 8.30pm last night.

However Chris Wootton, chief finance officer of owner Frasers Group, said this morning – less than 12 hours later – that its stores would not open today after all.

But staff say they feel ‘massively at risk’ as they are made to carry on working in factories where social distancing advice is ‘unrealistic’.  

Leonnie Foster, from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, said she works in one of the company’s factories, where she says sticking to social distancing advice is ‘unrealistic’.

The 18-year-old said: ‘I feel massively at risk and I feel like my health, life and family, as I still live at home with my parents and sister, are undervalued.

‘The factory needs to shut as well to protect all the staff.’

Confusion as shop and office workers are told to stay home amid coronavirus lockdown but builders and delivery drivers can carry on 

The government has come under pressure to urgently clarify who it counts as a ‘key worker’ after Britons woke up in a state of lockdown confusion.

Last night in his historic address to the nation, Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay at home unless travelling to work was ‘absolutely necessary’. 

It was wrapped into an emergency package of draconian measures to keep people indoors to stem the tide of coronavirus infection, which threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

But the wriggle room left by the Prime Minister over exactly who was allowed to travel was seized upon by many workers who continued to commute to their jobs this morning.

Construction workers were seen operating in close proximity, causing head-scratching over why they were continuing to work while most of the country was forced to hunker down at home.

Responding to claims that details of the lockdown were ‘murky’, Michael Gove, the minister for the cabinet office, said: ‘It is the case that construction should continue on sites.

‘People should obviously exercise sensitivity and common sense and follow social distancing measures. But construction sites carried out in the open air can continue’. 

And Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan fanned further confusion when they advised construction workers to stay at home. 

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said it has closed its construction sites, show homes and sale sites due to coronavirus.

The company said it has a ‘large order-book and quality long-term landbank’ which provides it with increased resilience.

It said UK operations have ‘only been meaningfully impacted in very recent days’ while its smaller Spanish operations have been disrupted by a nationwide shutdown. Earlier on Tuesday, competitor Redrow said its sites remain open with ‘strict precautions in place including enhanced levels of cleaning, additional hygiene facilities and social distancing’.

Another worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said they have worked at the company since they were 16 and now have a young family.

‘I cuddled a scared and confused five-year-old to bed last night knowing that his mum and dad could risk potentially bringing in the virus for the sake of some fitness equipment,’ they said.

‘I am disappointed (the announcement to close stores to the public) has not come from the company itself and am worried they find another loophole to continue us working. I have had no contact from them as of yet.’

Mr Wootton said in a ‘clarification’ that they will remain shut, despite stating that government policy ‘excludes bicycle shops from closure’.

Stores will not reopen until ‘given the go-ahead by the Government’, he added.

The retailer said it is contacting the Government ‘at all levels’ in an attempt to get confirmation from the Prime Minister.

It comes after politicians hit out at the business for its plan to keep stores open after Boris Johnson ordered non-essential shops to close, with Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery telling company majority owner Mike Ashley to ‘take some responsibility’ and ‘shut up shop’. 

Earlier, Michael Gove said he could not see any justification for Sports Direct to stay open during coronavirus restrictions and did not consider it as essential work.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Cabinet Office Minister Mr Gove had said Mr Ashley should ‘rescind what he said’ about keeping the leisurewear shop open. 

GMB presenter Piers Morgan had asked Mr Gove: ‘It doesn’t seem to me that Sports Direct is an essential shop to stay open right now, does it to you?’

And Mr Gove replied: ‘You’re absolutely right, Piers, I can’t see any justification for Sports Direct remaining open.’

Morgan added: ‘So if you work at Sports Direct and you’ve been ordered to come in or politely requested at risk of your job, perhaps, this morning, what should you do?’

And Mr Gove said: ‘Well my view is that Mike Ashley should rescind – he’s the man who’s in charge of Sports Direct – what he said, he should back off, the key thing that we need to do is to make sure that people wherever possible stay at home. ‘

Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery also questioned the Sports Direct’s desire to stay open, tweeting: ‘Who on earth does Mike Ashley think he is? He’s prepared to endanger the life of his employees and the public at large.’

The Wansbeck MP added that selling sports equipment ‘is not an essential service’, while Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said Sports Direct staying open could potentially be ‘putting vulnerable people at risk’.

‘Take some responsibility SHUT UP SHOP’ Mr Lavery concluded.

Labour MP Jess Phillips agreed that the firm is ‘not essential’, tweeting: ‘Massive mugs notwithstanding there is nothing people cannot live without in Sports Direct.’

Any firm which closes its stores joins a long list which now includes Primark, McDonald’s, Greggs, Nando’s, Costa Coffee, Eat and Debenhams.

The finance chief of Sports Direct wrote to employees saying that they can serve a vital need during the coronavirus crisis

The finance chief of Sports Direct wrote to employees saying that they can serve a vital need during the coronavirus crisis

Who should still be going to work? London Mayor warns government’s rules are too LOOSE

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has warned that the government risks undermining its coronavirus lockdown by allowing too many people to go to work.

Boris Johnson left some wriggle room in his announcement this evening, merely saying that people should only travel to work if it was ‘absolutely necessary’. 

The government laid out who was counted as a ‘key worker’ and still permitted to send their children to schools last week. 

But Mr Khan said the definition was too wide, and many would be confused about who was allowed to leave the house. He  said the Welsh and Scottish First Ministers agreed with him. 

‘The only people that should be leaving home are those that are essential to look after us,’ he told the BBC. 

He added: ‘In my view the only construction workers that should be working are those that are needed for safety.’  

In contrast, Waitrose announced in a statement that it was backing the Government’s plea with ‘a set of strong, new measures’.

These would include limiting customer numbers, introducing floor signage to mark safe distances, marshals to manage queues, protective screens at checkouts, and additional security, the company said in a statement.

Reacting to the Sports Direct U-turn, Julie Palmer, partner at professional services consultancy Begbies Traynor, told MailOnline: ‘Despite the company having made a U-turn on its decision to keep stores open it is unlikely this will be forgotten by employees or customers.

‘The initial decision could see customers and employees turn against brands in a time of crisis for the UK.

‘The impact this crisis will have on high street brands will be massive, and could spell the end for many without a convincing online option.

‘However, even the initial indication of a decision to stay open could see the power of the concerned, connected consumer come to the fore with a risk that after this is corona crisis is over the blow to reputation and the potential of consumer boycott becomes real.’

Last night, Mr Wootton had written: ‘We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home… indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself. 

‘Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

‘Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the Government’s current social distancing guidance).

‘There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population.’

The finance chief, who sits on the board alongside chief executive and majority owner Mr Ashley, signed off: ‘Thanks for your incredible efforts during this time.’

The Prime Minister said restrictions would be tightened up so only essential journeys should be made by key workers.

He also said people could leave home for exercise, but only while maintaining social distancing.

Although Government advice says that retail outlets should shut down, it makes exceptions for ‘health shops’ and ‘bicycle shops’. 

Next to close all 700 stores as Britain’s high street shops shut down amid coronavirus crisis

By Sebastian Murphy-Bates and Terri-Ann Williams

Next closed every one of its 700 UK stores from 6pm last night due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The high street fashion retailer announced that it will temporarily shut up shop until further notice. 

A spokesperson said on Twitter: ‘We have made the decision to close our stores from today, Monday 23rd March at 6pm, until further notice.

Next will close all of its UK stores from last night amid the coronavirus outbreak which has now killed 335 people in Britain (file photo)

Next will close all of its UK stores from last night amid the coronavirus outbreak which has now killed 335 people in Britain (file photo)

The shops closing due to the coronavirus pandemic

‘We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of our staff who continue to be incredibly supportive of Next and we would also like to let customers know that we do appreciate their loyal support.’

Shortly afterwards, restaurant Wagamama revealed it will close all of its eateries from 9pm. 

It comes as: 

  • Frontline NHS staff claimed they are having to share facemasks amid growing demand for the items
  • Rishi Sunak to announce cash bail-out for five million self-employed Britons facing coronavirus ruin – after promise to cover 80% of laid-off workers’ incomes 
  • Teachers across the country begged parents to reconsider their ‘key worker’ status 
  • Commuters in London left furious as trains were still overcrowded today due to reduced services
  • FTSE 100 opened five per cent down with drop of 266 to 4,923 points as coronavirus crisis continues to terrify investors – while pound trades at $1.16 amid chaos

Many chains said they would be temporarily shutting stores in the UK, as retailers all over the country begin to deal with the fall out from the illness that has so far killed 335 people, with over 5,857 cases having been confirmed. 

Many people across the UK will be laid off work due to the virus and chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing a fresh coronavirus economic bailout to protect the UK’s five million self-employed workers. 

He had announced on Friday that the Government would cover 80 per cent of employers’ wage bills in a bid to stop mass lay-offs. 

On Sunday Timpson announced that all 2,150 of its stores – including its cobblers and locksmiths, and Johnsons – will ‘go into hibernation’ at 5pm today. 

CEO James Timpson confirmed that staff will remain on full pay. 

But B&Q and Screwfix stores remain open, with bosses introducing new social distancing measures in stores.

This is while Ann Summers will close all stores and will pay staff their full salaries until next month. 

And high street giant John Lewis decided to close all 50 of its stores from close of business last night for the first time in its 155-year history. Waitrose will however remain open.

HMV also said it would be temporarily closing its stores for trade from the end of Sunday, although its online business would continue. 

Topshop employees were laid off after the Arcadia Group closed its 300 UK stores an hour before the Government announced its coronavirus job retention plan.

The group owned by billionaire Philip Green said in an emailed statement: ‘In line with many other retailers, the Group has made the difficult decision to close until further notice all of our stores from 4pm this afternoon.’

This includes Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, and Wallis.  

Scientists and medics say the vast majority of those killed by Covid-19, the illness created by the Wuhan virus, are elderly with ‘underlying conditions’.

Those ‘conditions’ include cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer sufferers. 

Despite this, it was yesterday reported that an 18-year-old man in the UK had died from the virus. 

Coronavirus lockdown: Who can still go out and why?

Boris Johnson last night imposed an unprecedented lockdown on the UK and told everyone they ‘must stay at home’ to slow the spread of coronavirus as he set out just four instances when people can go outside.

Describing the crisis as a national emergency, he ordered families to stay in their homes except in special circumstances.

All ‘non-essential’ shops will be closed and public gatherings of more than two people banned. 

Mr Johnson said the measures will be ‘under constant review’ and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks’ time if the evidence allows.

He said that ‘no prime minister wants to enact measures like this’ but the drastic new measures allowing people to only leave home for the ‘very limited purposes’ were necessary to slow the spread of the disease.

‘To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,’ he added.

What are the four reasons that Britons can leave their homes?

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible; 
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household; 
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; 
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are six feet (two metres) apart from anyone outside of your household.

What stores will close? And what are the exceptions that will stay open?

  • Restaurants – exceptions are food delivery and takeaway that can remain open
  • Cafes, including workplace canteens – exceptions are food delivery and takeaway can remain operational. Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless.
  • Bars and nightclubs, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • Hair, beauty and nail salons, including piercing and tattoo parlours
  • All retail with notable exceptions – Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including nondispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.
  • Outdoor and indoor markets – exceptions are market stalls which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food.
  • Hotels, hostels, BnBs, campsites and boarding houses –  exceptions are where people live in these as interim abodes whilst their primary residence is unavailable they may continue to do so. Key workers can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required.
  • Caravan parks/sites for commercial uses – exceptions are where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.
  • Community centres, youth centres and similar – Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services. We will do everything to support vulnerable people who are without a network of friends and families.
  • Places of worship for services – exceptions are for funerals following the social distancing guidance; places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer. Live streaming of a service without audience would be permissible.
  • Cinemas, theatres and concert halls – Live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible with social distancing observed.
  • Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops
  • Fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres
  • Arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar
  • Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches, and outdoor gyms or similar

Who are the key workers?

Health and social care – 

  • Doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers; producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment. 

Education and childcare – 

  • Nursery and teaching staff, social workers and specialist education professionals who must remain active to keep schools running.

Key public services – 

  • Those running of the justice system, religious staff, charity workers, undertakers, journalists and public service broadcasters.

Local/national government –  

  • ‘Only those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits’.

Food and other vital goods – 

  • Those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of key goods like hygienic and veterinary medicines.

National security – 

  • Police and support staff, MoD workers, the armed forces, fire and rescue services, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles.

Transport – 

  • Workers on air, water, road, and rail passenger modes, as well as air, water, road, and rail freight transport modes. 

Utilities, communication and financial services – 

  • Staff needed for financial services like banks and stock markets; workers in the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, the postal service, sewerage and telecoms.

How long will the new restrictions last?

The government’s Cobra emergency committee met at 5pm yesterday 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.

What enforcement action will there be? 

In his address to the nation Mr Johnson said if people do not follow the new rules officers ‘will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings’. 

Police will be able to fine people £30 if they ignore the rules and these on-the-spot fines will be ‘ramped up’ if there is widespread flouting, the government has said.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor businesses compliance with the regulations, with police support if necessary. 

Businesses and premises that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines. 

What social events can go ahead?

All social events are also being stopped including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies but funerals will still be allowed to go ahead, attended by immediate family only.

The government is banning public gatherings of more than two people, what are the exceptions?

  • where the gathering is of a group of people who live together – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.  

Are you still allowed to get a takeaway?

Government guidance says people can still access their local takeaway, this includes delivery drivers. But people are not allowed to consume any food or drinks on the premises.  

Venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit.

Boris Johnson’s address to the nation in full

Good Evening. The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

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.

And as we have seen elsewhere, in other countries that also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger.

To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope – and save more lives.

And that’s why we have been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic.

And though huge numbers are complying – and I thank you all – the time has now come for us all to do more.

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.

That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

And travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home.

You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No.

You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately:

Close all shops selling non-essential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.

We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with.

And we’ll stop all social events​, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this.

I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.

And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment.

We are accelerating our search for treatments.

We are pioneering work on a vaccine.

And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus.

Everyone from the supermarket staff to the transport workers to the carers to the nurses and doctors on the frontline.

But in this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted. Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together.

To halt the spread of this disease. To protect our NHS and to save many many thousands of lives.

And I know that as they have in the past so many times. The people of this country will rise to that challenge.

And we will come through it stronger than ever. We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives. Thank you.

Deserted Britain on day one of coronavirus lockdown: Streets and roads are empty, shops and offices are closed as nation self-isolates… but STILL they queue up at supermarkets at the crack of dawn

Britain entered its first day of coronavirus lockdown today as people were ordered to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work.

Eerie photographs showed city centres in the likes of London, Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Birmingham were almost completely empty with much of the UK workforce now setting up their office at home.

But queues again formed early this morning outside supermarkets across the country as shoppers observed the social distancing rules of standing two metres – or more than six feet – apart while waiting to get into stores.

Virtually all shops are now closing in a dramatic escalation of the lockdown, with only supermarkets, pharmacies, specialist food shops, petrol stations, corner shop newsagents, hardware stores and pet shops staying open. 

It comes as military vehicles crossed a near-empty Westminster Bridge this morning after delivering a much-needed batch of protective face masks to frontline NHS nurses and doctors battling the pandemic. 

The =concourse surrounding Bristol Temple Meads train station is empty of rush-hour commuters and travelers at 8am today

The =concourse surrounding Bristol Temple Meads train station is empty of rush-hour commuters and travelers at 8am today

The eerie empty streets of Birmingham city centre this morning as only a handful of workers venture out this morning

The eerie empty streets of Birmingham city centre this morning as only a handful of workers venture out this morning

Empty streets in Liverpool city centre this morning after the country wakes up to tight new restrictions on movement

Empty streets in Liverpool city centre this morning after the country wakes up to tight new restrictions on movement

An empty Princes Street in Edinburgh - one of the city's main shopping routes - this morning as the UK goes into lockdown

An empty Princes Street in Edinburgh – one of the city’s main shopping routes – this morning as the UK goes into lockdown

An empty children's play area on Llandaff Fields in Cardiff, South Wales, this morning as the country goes into lockdown

An empty children’s play area on Llandaff Fields in Cardiff, South Wales, this morning as the country goes into lockdown

Soldiers from the Army’s 101 Logistic Brigade dropped off the medical masks at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, following warnings that many doctors feel like ‘lambs to the slaughter’ because of the lack of proper protection. 

Nursing leaders had called upon Mr Johnson to intervene over the lack of protective clothing for NHS staff, telling him that many of those doctors and nurses putting their lives on the line are coming out of retirement.

The Army is now helping deliver protective equipment such as masks, safety glasses and suits round the clock to hospitals – but many staff have raised concerns that there will not be enough to go around all their colleagues. 

The Royal College of Nursing said that not only are frontline staff deeply concerned about contracting the virus themselves, they are anxious about passing it on to the very vulnerable patients in other wards.

Military sources have revealed that 460 personnel are being mobilised over the next few days to help deliver the personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals.

A lone person walks through Queens Square in Bristol today which is empty of rush-hour pedestrians at 8.20am today

A lone person walks through Queens Square in Bristol today which is empty of rush-hour pedestrians at 8.20am today

The eerie empty streets of Birmingham city centre this morning, as a few workers venture out amid the lockdown

The eerie empty streets of Birmingham city centre this morning, as a few workers venture out amid the lockdown

Bristol Temple Meads train station is empty of rush-hour commuters and other passengers at 8am this morning

Bristol Temple Meads train station is empty of rush-hour commuters and other passengers at 8am this morning

An empty Liverpool Pier Head this morning after Boris Johnson put the whole of the UK into a coronavirus lockdown

An empty Liverpool Pier Head this morning after Boris Johnson put the whole of the UK into a coronavirus lockdown

A lone cyclist in the Roald Dahl Plass public plaza in Cardiff this morning after the lockdown measures were brought in

A lone cyclist in the Roald Dahl Plass public plaza in Cardiff this morning after the lockdown measures were brought in

Empty stairs and escalators at London's Oxford Street Underground station this morning as the UK goes into lockdown

Empty stairs and escalators at London’s Oxford Street Underground station this morning as the UK goes into lockdown

There are currently 50 members of the military tasked with getting vital kit to the NHS but there are plans to increase this by nine fold over the course of this week.

The Army have sent dozens of military planners to distribution centres across the UK to help coordinate the operation and their main hub will be in Liverpool. 

A Defence source said: ‘There is a massive hole in the capability to do this. The NHS haven’t got ability to coordinate it so we are sending more army personnel to support that planning.

‘We are talking about huge amounts of kit. They just don’t have the numbers, it is about getting skilled planners to help logistics.’ 

Over the weekend the Doctors’ Association, a grassroots organisation, warned that doctors were being made to feel like ‘lambs to the slaughter’ and ‘cannon fodder’.

People observe social distancing while queuing at a Sainsbury's supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, early today

People observe social distancing while queuing at a Sainsbury’s supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, early today

Crowds of people walk into a Tesco supermarket in the Gloucestershire market town of Cirencester this morning

Crowds of people walk into a Tesco supermarket in the Gloucestershire market town of Cirencester this morning

People queue today at a Sainsbury's supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, after the UK was put into lockdown

People queue today at a Sainsbury’s supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, after the UK was put into lockdown

People observe social distancing while queuing at a Sainsbury's supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, today

People observe social distancing while queuing at a Sainsbury’s supermarket at Colton, on the outskirts of Leeds, today

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday: ‘I am determined to ensure that the right kit gets to the right hospital, the right ambulance service, the right doctors’ surgery, right across the country.

‘There have been challenges and I can see that. We’re on it and trying to solve all the problems.’

Mr Johnson has placed the UK on lockdown to tackle the coronavirus, threatening police fines for anyone who ignores new measures including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. 

The Prime Minister detailed a short list of reasons why individuals can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials items yesterday evening.

He ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’ and to perform one form of exercise a day. 

People queue outside a Sainsbury's store in South West London this morning as the spread of the coronavirus continues

People queue outside a Sainsbury’s store in South West London this morning as the spread of the coronavirus continues

People stand two metres apart as they wait for a Sainsbury's supermarket to open in South West London this morning

People stand two metres apart as they wait for a Sainsbury’s supermarket to open in South West London this morning

People queue with gaps of at least two metres between them outside a Sainsbury's supermarket in South West London today

People queue with gaps of at least two metres between them outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket in South West London today

People stand outside a Sainsbury's supermarket in South West London today as the spread of coronavirus continues

People stand outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket in South West London today as the spread of coronavirus continues

Or they could seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if ‘absolutely necessary’, he said in a televised address from within Downing Street.

‘That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home,’ he said. ‘You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say No. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

‘If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.’

To ensure people follow the rules, Mr Johnson ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing. 

All public gatherings of more than two people – other than those they live with – will be barred, the PM said. Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after soldiers delivered medical masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London today

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after soldiers delivered medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London today

Soldiers from the British Army's 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' Hospital today

Soldiers from the British Army’s 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital today

Soldier arrive in a military lorry to deliver the consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London this morning

Soldier arrive in a military lorry to deliver the consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning

The delivery by the 101 Logistic Brigade today came after Boris Johnson announced strict lockdown measures for Britain

The delivery by the 101 Logistic Brigade today came after Boris Johnson announced strict lockdown measures for Britain

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.

Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease’s spread. Government officials said fines will start at £30, but warned they would escalate.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be ‘under constant review’ and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks’ time if the evidence allows.

He said that ‘no prime minister wants to enact measures like this’ as he reminded the public of the support programme to aid ailing businesses and struggling individuals.

But he said the drastic new measures allowing people to only leave home for the ‘very limited purposes’ were necessary to slow the spread of the disease.  

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London today

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London today

The Army is helping deliver protective equipment such as masks, safety glasses and suits round the clock to hospitals today

The Army is helping deliver protective equipment such as masks, safety glasses and suits round the clock to hospitals today

Many staff at NHS hospitals today have raised concerns that there will not be enough to go around all their colleagues

Many staff at NHS hospitals today have raised concerns that there will not be enough to go around all their colleagues

The Army have sent dozens of military planners to distribution centres across the UK to help coordinate the operation

The Army have sent dozens of military planners to distribution centres across the UK to help coordinate the operation

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London this morning

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning

‘To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,’ he added.

Mr Johnson had been facing widespread calls to impose tough restrictions on the nation amid concerns people are ignoring social distancing advice.

His call came after the UK death toll hit 335 and British citizens travelling abroad were told to return home ‘while you still can’.

Online supermarkets immediately appeared to buckle under the strain after the announcement with crashes occurring on the Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda websites.

Forty-six more people died in England alongside four in Scotland and four in Wales, taking the number who have died in British hospitals after testing positive to 335. Those who have died in England range in age from 18 to 105. 

A military lorry is seen as members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver the masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London today

A military lorry is seen as members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver the masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London today

There are currently 50 members of the military tasked with getting vital kit to the NHS, including those at St Thomas' today

There are currently 50 members of the military tasked with getting vital kit to the NHS, including those at St Thomas’ today

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade arrive in a military lorry to deliver the batch of medical masks to St Thomas'  today

Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade arrive in a military lorry to deliver the batch of medical masks to St Thomas’  today

Soldiers of the British Army’s 101 Logistic Brigade deliver the masks to St Thomas' Hospital in London this morning

Soldiers of the British Army’s 101 Logistic Brigade deliver the masks to St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning

In an earlier escalation of advice, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told citizens travelling overseas to return to the UK using commercial routes that are still running.

Meanwhile, MPs were debating emergency legislation that could see airports shut and police having the powers to force people with virus symptoms to isolate.

Over the weekend, crowds of people were witnessed visiting open spaces across many parts of the UK, at times flouting official social distancing advice.

There were growing fears that Britain is on a similar trajectory to Italy – scene of the world’s worst outbreak – where the death toll passed 5,000 over the weekend.

The Italian government was one of a number of European countries to announce new or extended restrictions – with Germany banning public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household.  

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