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UK lockdown timeline: The key events of the 2020 coronavirus crisis in the UK

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The coronavirus pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge on a global scale. As of September 8, 2020, more than 350,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the UK. Of those who tested positive for the virus, more than 40,000 people have died in the UK to date.

When did lockdown start?

On January 31, 2020, the first two cases of COVID-19 in the UK were confirmed.

But despite a growing number of coronavirus cases in the UK, it wasn’t until March 23 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced people should “stay at home” during a televised address.

People were told to work from home wherever possible, and that they should only leave their homes for essential purposes.

People could leave their houses to shop for food and medicine, for one form of exercise per day, to care for a vulnerable person or for medical purposes.

Mr Johnson told the nation: “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.”
All non-essential business premises, such as shops and restaurants, were closed.

A few days later on March 27, both the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive for COVID-19.

It later emerged around this time the PM’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings made the trip from London to Durham, despite experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Cummings said he made the trip to ensure proper childcare for his child, and the PM later faced calls to sack him for what was widely perceived as the breaking of lockdown rules, however Mr Johnson stood by him.

Key lockdown dates

On April 3, the first NHS Nightingale hospital was opened at London’s ExCel centre, to help with the increasing number of UK coronavirus cases.

On April 5, the Queen made a special message to uplift the nation as it dealt with COVID-19.

The Queen said “we will meet again”, echoing the lyrics of Vera Lynn’s war song ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

On April 6, the PM was taken into intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital, having been diagnosed with COVID-19 a few weeks before.

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On April 12 the PM was released from hospital, and he spent some time at the country home of the prime minister, Chequers, with partner Carrie Symonds.

Captain Sir Tom Moore completed 100 laps of his garden on April 16, raising millions for NHS charities, and he later received a knighthood from the Queen for his efforts.

On April 29, Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds welcomed their son, Wilfred, whose middle name of Nicholas was decided in tribute to the NHS staff who saved Mr Johnson’s life while in intensive care.

On May 8, the country marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and the Queen gave another televised address to the nation.

On May 10, the Government decided to switch the public message from “stay at home” to “stay alert”.

People were told they can exercise more than once a day, and the Government outlined how non-essential shops would be allowed to reopen over the coming months.

From June 15, non-essential shops could reopen in England providing they were ‘covid-secure’ and met the necessary guideline requirements to reopen.

From July 4, dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers were given the green-light to reopen.

People were authorised to meet with one other household indoors, providing social distancing was maintained.

From August 15, ‘close-contact’ beauty services were able to resume.

Wedding receptions with up to 30 guests were permitted, and indoor theatre and music venues were allowed to reopen.

Business events, conferences, exhibitions and events centres are expected to reopen from October 1.

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