BREAKING NEWS: PM says public must avoid pubs, theatres and restaurants plus all non-essential travel

Boris Johnson
The PM apologised to his parliamentary colleagues after receiving fines for 'partygate' gatherings

In a statement this afternoon, the Prime Minster, the chief scientific officer, Sir Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, outlined drastic new measures to limit the further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The new measures include:

  • avoid all non-essential travel
  • avoid social contact
  • work from home
  • avoid pubs, club, theatres and restaurants
  • anyone displaying symptoms should stay at home for 14 days, along with all other members of their household

School closures have not been included in the measures, but have not been ruled out.

Ahead of the announcement, Boris Johnson said, “Our objective is to delay and flatten the peak of epdemic to minimise suffering and save lives and is based scrupulously on best scientific advice.”

The advice to avoid social environments has come as a bitter blow to Bedford’s many independent bars, theatres and restaurants.

Because the government have not made closure of these businesses mandatory, it will affect their insurance and contractual obligations.

Tim Edwards of Beerfly on St Cuthbert’s Street said, “As the news has only just broken we’ll need to think about the implications of this announcement and how and if we can continue to operate.

“People’s safety is clearly the most important thing and we would reiterate that anyone showing any symptoms of the virus or who is at a heightened risk should definitely self isolate.

Beerfly is among the many Bedford businesses affected by the latest announcement

“For now we will continue to offer a great range of beers in a clean environment and would encourage anyone who is worried but wants to grab a couple of beers to pick up during the normally quieter hours during the afternoon.

“We’re also thinking about door-to-door deliveries to help our customers out.”

A spokesperson for Wells & Co said, “We are doing everything in our power to support our Pub Partners in ensuring their pubs remain relevant and of service to their local communities.”

Rather more scathing of the government’s announcement, Alex Levene of the Place Theatre said, “This advice comes as no surprise to me, and is the position the government should have adopted weeks ago.

“We look forward to hearing what measures they will put in place to protect freelance workers, people on zero hours contracts and SMEs working in face to face environments whose income and future existence will be placed in jeopardy by this late announcement.

“We are worried for these people, who make up the backbone of the workforce in cultural, retail and the hospitality industries, and who provide huge social, cultural and wellbeing boosts to the communities in which they work.

“Like many other businesses we have wasted many days and weeks trying to allay fears and convince our customers, partners and audiences that ‘business as usual’ is an acceptable response to the situation, despite knowing that this announcement was as inevitable as night following day.”

The PM has said that he will make a daily announcement to update on the latest measures.

Contribution Orange new email

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.