Britain braced for coronavirus lockdown with London ‘shutting down in days’

Britain is braced for an unprecedented coronavirus lockdown – with ministers preparing to close London as early as this week.

Emergency legislation will be used to restrict tube networks, close schools, and ban large public gatherings.

But the plans sparked fury from London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who claims he has been kept in the dark by Boris Johnson’s team.

A source close to the Mayor told the Telegraph: “We expect a shutdown of London but nobody in central Government is saying when that will be or what form it will take.

“The prime minister is saying we need to go faster and further and there is a spike of cases in London which is running ahead of the country but what that actually means the mayor’s office doesn’t yet know because Downing Street hasn’t said.”

It comes as the Government prepares to close schools and restrict all but essential travel.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to tell MPs that pupils in England will be sent home this week.

Earlier today Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to close schools by the end of the week – with the Welsh government following suit just hours later.

It comes after Boris Johnson hinted schools could close after 650k signed a petition urging him to keep kids at home.

He said last night: "I understand completely where people are at with that, we're keeping it under continuous review."

Coronavirus: What you need to know

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night told Brits to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres

  • All over-70s, pregnant women and adults who would normally ask to have a flu vaccine were told to "avoid all social contact"

  • The UK's coronavirus death toll hit 60 – with nearly 2,000 confirmed cases so far

  • It emerged that over 250,000 people would have died under the government's initial plan

  • Supermarkets across Britain slashed their services to stay open during the coronavirus outbreak

This week the government advised Brits against attending social gatherings, such as pubs and theatres to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Earlier this week it emerged that the government’s initial plan to control the virus could have resulted in 250,000 people dying, the researchers said.

A study revealed this approach would "likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over".

Coronavirus in Britain – latest figures

Disease expert Neil Ferguson earlier said the UK was three weeks behind Italy and two weeks behind France and Spain in terms of the virus’s spread.

His study warned: "We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound."

The government yesterday announced the death toll had reached 71 in the UK, with two new fatalities confirmed in Milton Keynes this morning.

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