When the UK lockdown started and its effect on coronavirus infections - and when restrictions could be lifted

The government imposed the UK lockdown on Monday 23 March (Photo: Shutterstock)The government imposed the UK lockdown on Monday 23 March (Photo: Shutterstock)
The government imposed the UK lockdown on Monday 23 March (Photo: Shutterstock)

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

The UK has been put under lockdown in an effort to help minimise the spread of coronavirus, and enable the NHS to cope with increasing demand for care.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered that people should now only leave their homes for specific and essential reasons, with police able to issue fines and arrest those who flout the rules.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When did the UK lockdown start?

The government imposed the lockdown on the evening of Monday 23 March.

The restrictions have initially been put in place for a period of three weeks, until Monday 13 April.

The situation is then to be reviewed at the end of this 21 day period, and relaxed if the government believes it is safe and possible to do so.

Have the restrictions been effective?

There are signs that the rate of infection in the UK is starting to slow since the lockdown was imposed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While the number of deaths from coronavirus has been doubling every few days, the number of confirmed cases and people being admitted to hospital for treatment has been slowing.

Scientists say the daily total of deaths will soon follow suit, although they warned there could be record highs in the coming days, with the number of cases expected to peak by Easter (12 Apr).

Until the end of March, testing for coronavirus was mostly limited to patients in hospital, but has since been extended to more NHS workers - meaning the number of confirmed cases will likely rise as a result.

Prof Keith Neal, epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, told the BBC that the number of cases could rise again this week, but this could simply be due to more testing, rather than an increase in infection rates.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said it will only become clear if infection rates are slowing “if the government start reporting the number of new confirmed cases in NHS workers separately from cases in patients.”

When could restrictions be lifted?

The government is to review lockdown measures at the end of the initial three week period on 13 April.

After this date, rules may be relaxed if it is deemed safe to do so.

However, First Secretary of State Dominic Raab played down the idea that restrictions would be lifted in any way next week at a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, stating that the most important thing at the moment is for people to keep adhering to the current guidance.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “The critical thing is to take evidence-based decisions and so we’ve said that we will take any review once we’ve got the evidence that the measures are working and having the kind of impact taking us past the peak, which means that they can be responsibly done.

“We’re not at that stage yet.”

Prof Chris Whitty added: “It’s really important that we get to the point that we’re all confident that we’re beyond the peak and then at that point start making it clear what combination of things, and over what period of time, seems a sensible combination to take us through.”

When did other countries impose lockdowns?


Wuhan in China, where coronavirus is said to have originated, imposed what is probably the most extreme lockdown so far from 23 January, with all journeys in and out of the city banned - even for those medical or humanitarian reasons.

The lockdown in parts of China has now been gradually eased, more than two months after being imposed, although restrictions have had to be reintroduced in some areas as signs of a second wave of infections emerged.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The city of Wuhan came out of lockdown on 8 April, almost three months after coming into force.


Italy shut down its northern region on 8 March - the hardest hit by the virus - and extended restrictions to the whole country just two days later.

The lockdown measures were initially meant to be lifted on 3 April, but it has now been extended until at least 12 April.


The Spanish government declared a state of emergency on 14 March and imposed a nationwide lockdown which came into force on 16 March.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The lockdown was initially ordered for a period of two weeks, but was then extended to 11 April.

The Spanish government has said it is still considering options to extend the restrictions again, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stating who would request an extension of the state of emergency until 26 April.

The lockdown could extend even further beyond that if the government decides that the measures are still necessary to contain the virus.


France went into full lockdown on 17 March, with citizens banned from leaving their homes except to buy food or essentials, visit the doctors, or travel to a job that is certified as not being possible to do from home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The country is on strict lockdown until at least 15 April, although it could yet be extended further.


Germany has been under lockdown since 22 March, with restaurants, leisure facilities, and most shops closed.

The regulations are due to be lifted on 19 April, with the country drawing up plans including mandatory wearing of masks in public, and limits on gatherings, to help ensure a phased return to normal life.


Show your support for the incredible work being done by those working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis. Join our Facebook group and follow the dedicated Instagram page to read stories of everyday heroism and share your own messages.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this website, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you, and stay safe.