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Coronavirus: Soldiers offload supplies at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital

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 Houses of Parliament at the end of an empty Westminster Bridge with one pedestrian on the pavement this morning

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. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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