BREAKING: UK Set To Ban Mass Gatherings Over COVID-19 Fears
March. 14, 2020
The UK government is on the verge of introducing emergency laws next week to ban mass gatherings as a means to try to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
So far, ministers have opposed this option even though some major sporting events including the London Marathon and all Premier League matches have already been suspended.
Ireland is to shut down all educational institutions and childcare facilities and other public spaces like museums, while Scotland has banned public gatherings of over 500 people.
Eleven people have already died in the UK after contracting the coronavirus, and the number of confirmed infections has reached 798 - an increase of 208 over the last 24 hours.
A Whitehall source said the UK government has drafted emergency legislation to ban mass gatherings and compensate organisations.
The source said: "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.
"We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home."
Ireland's deputy prime minister Simon Coveney criticised the UK government this week for allowing the Cheltenham Festival to go ahead as scheduled.
Tens of thousands of horse racing fans attended Prestbury Park for the showpiece event despite the global coronavirus pandemic.
The Whitehall source said the government, in handling the coronavirus, has been "concerned" about the burden large events put on public services including the NHS and police.
The source added: "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."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new control measures on Thursday as the government's coronavirus response escalated to the second phase - moving from trying to contain the virus to slow down its spread.
Anyone with a new persistent cough or a high temperature will now have to be quarantined and stay at home for seven days, and schools are being urged to cancel planned international trips.
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