Coronavirus live blog as it happened: latest as UK travellers urged to return home and PM to address nation on new measures

Follow the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in our live blog below

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 7:10 pm

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Signs in a coffee shop in Main Street Fort William as people are asked to stop travelling to the Scottish Highlands in a bid to avoid spreading the coronavirus (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Signs in a coffee shop in Main Street Fort William as people are asked to stop travelling to the Scottish Highlands in a bid to avoid spreading the coronavirus (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

We will be providing live updates until 7pm this evening.

Coronavirus live blog, March 23

Last updated: Monday, 23 March, 2020, 12:54

  • Latest figures show 5,683 confirmed cases in the UK, with 335 deaths
  • Schools across the UK will not open today as shutdown continues
  • Government considers imposing stricture social distancing measures as crowds flock to beaches and parks over the weekend

Jury trials in England and Wales to be suspended

As part of the ongoing efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19, all jury trials in England and Wales will be put on hold.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett has said in a statement that no new trials will start and that ongoing trials will be paused while arrangements are put in place so they can continue safely.

Johnson's 'relaxed style' will 'cost lives'

Labour deputy leadership candidate and practising doctor Rosena Allin-Khan has said Boris Johnson's "relaxed" approach to coronavirus could cost lives.

The MP for Tooting told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If we look at the fact that we are two weeks behind Italy, we are headed for a disaster if people do not heed the social distancing measures

"The Prime Minister simply said yesterday he wants people to enjoy themselves outside while also saying that people should stay two metres apart outdoors.

"This relaxed style, mixed messaging will cost lives and I believe people are struggling to follow guidelines because they are just not clear."

The emergency department doctor supports a "full lockdown" if that was proven to be the way to save lives.

UK government may 'take further action'

The Government "may have to take further action" if people continue to flout social distancing rules of staying two metres away from each other.

Speaking to Sky News, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "This is not the sort of thing that anybody would want to do but, of course, it is the sort of thing we might have to do in order to protect life.

"If you do go out, you must not get closer than two metres from someone who isn't in your household.

"It is a really simple rule and incredibly important, because to protect life and the NHS we need to stop the spread of this virus and the virus spreads by people coming into close contact with each other."

Costa Coffee to close all stores from this evening

From Monday (23 March) evening, all of Costa Coffee's stores will be temporarily closed.

The chain said it would do its "best" to keep stores open in hospitals; NHS staff will be given free takeaway coffee for the next two weeks.

Staff at closed stores will be paid their full average weekly pay over eight weeks.

Many Londoners flouting social distancing guidelines

The district organiser for train drivers' union Aslef has reported some London Underground platforms being extremely busy on Monday (23 March) morning.

Finn Brennan posted on Twitter: "Still heavy loading on some Tube lines this morning making social distancing impossible.

"This is endangering the health of the vital workers who have to use the system.

"The Government must act now to ensure only ESSENTIAL journeys are made.

"I'm being sent pictures of crush loaded platforms at some Jubilee line platforms this morning. Drivers and other front line staff are furious."

'If you don't stop... we are going to have to take more measures'

Health Secretary Mr Hancock has warned "if you don't stop, then we are going to have to take more measures".

He told BBC Breakfast he thinks the Government has "already shown that we are willing to do things that we don't want to do but we may have to do" to try and protect public safety such as last week's shutdown of venues such as pubs and clubs.

"Nothing is off the table" in terms of the future action which could be taken, adding: "I do not want to pre-judge the discussions we will have today to make a decision on those things. Ultimately, it is a decision for the prime minister.

"I advise him on what I think needs to happen and I am really clear, people need to stay more than two metres apart. We have got to see that happen because that is the only way to protect life."

Filming of top soaps suspended

Following last week's announcement that the BBC is to halt production on new episodes of Eastenders, ITV has announced it is suspending filming on Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

Episodes that have already been filmed will be aired on a reduced schedule.

The Yorkshire-based Emmerdale will air on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from next week.

"The change to Emmerdale's transmission pattern will ensure we have episodes of both soaps airing on ITV until at least the early summer," ITV said.

Ignoring social distance advice 'very selfish'

Asked why people were ignoring the advice for social distancing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't know, because it is very selfish.

"If people go within two metres of others who they don't live with, then they are helping to spread the virus and the consequence of that costs lives and it means, for everyone, this will go on for longer.

"Until we get a grip on the spread of this virus with the kinds of measures we have taken, then we can't start to get our way out of it as a country."

Health Minister Nadine Dorries returns to Westminster

Health minister Nadine Dorries is returning to work in Westminster after recovering from Covid-19.

Subway latest fast food outlet to close

Subway has announced it is temporarily closing all of its stores in the UK and Ireland from 5pm on Monday.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Subway said: "We believe this is the best thing to support social distancing and keep everyone as healthy as possible for as long as possible."

It is the latest food and drink firm to close amid the coronavirus outbreak, following the steps of McDonalds, Nando's and Costa Coffee.

Keir Starmer: 'government must go further'

Labour leadership hopeful Sir Keir Starmer said further restrictions must be imposed to reduce the spread of the virus.

He said: "I know there is growing anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus, the severe pressures on our National Health Service and the risk to people's lives.

"Labour has supported the social distancing measures that have been introduced.

"However, in these extraordinary times, the Government must now set out further compliance measures, such as those introduced in other countries.

"These are vital days in the battle against the coronavirus.

"Any additional measures should sit alongside a national plan of action to support people to cope, including the most vulnerable and the self-employed."

Maps show spread of Covid-19 in UK

The JPIMedia data team have produced a series of interactive maps detailing the spread of coronavirus in the UK. 

You can study them here.

First day of school closures

Children across the country are spending their first school day at home after the government introduced measures for schools and nurseries to close. 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said initial feedback from members indicates that parents have listened to calls to use schools only when they have no option to keep children at home.

"Schools are reporting that the number of pupils arriving is manageable," he said.

"We are grateful to parents for their understanding.

"We would like to pay tribute to schools for their amazing work in organising this provision so quickly.

"They have calmly gone about the business of identifying children who need places, arranging staffing cover and providing learning resources for children who are at home. It has been an exemplary exercise in superb leadership."

Dominic Raab will take charge of country if PM falls ill

Secretary of State Dominic Raab will take temporary control of the government if the PM falls ill from cornavirus, according to the Guardian. 

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street told a lobby briefing that Raab would temporarily assume the position of PM as he is the First Secretary of State.

Scotland death toll rises to 14

The number of people with coronavirus who have died in  Scotland has risen by four to 14 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

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