An empty Oxford Circus [Credit: Jon Cartwright/Evening Standard]

UK to go on lockdown following Johnson’s speech

UK: In a speech to the British public yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tight lockdown measures will go into effect across the country.

Guidelines limit gatherings of more than two people, an adoption of a shelter in place policy and a limiting of time outdoors to essential shopping and one period of exercise.

This is the latest in the United Kingdom’s attempt to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson announced last week a closing of all non-essential hospitality businesses, primarily cafes, pubs and restaurants.

New measures have mandated non-essential shops shut without plans to reopen, and gatherings in public will be prohibited. Leaders across the country, from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to the Archbishop of Canterbury, had all called for the lockdown measures to be implemented.

Johnson said: “If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

Hospitality has felt the pain over the past few days, with businesses cutting costs and preparing for a long wait.

Guests who had made reservations in Edinburgh properties have found themselves stranded, waiting for an opening in another Airbnb.

One traveller, Alyse Suguhara, told the BBC: “We are getting really worried now that we are running out of money.”

In anticipation of lockdown, many wealthy Londoners have headed to the countryside, with luxury rental units profiting from unique markups.

Johnson added: “The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost. And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.”

The virus has put a a halt on many industry plans, with Airbnb’s partnership with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees being delayed by the Games’ postponement.

Portland-based vacation rental management company and hospitality unicorn, Vacasa, also announced a significant round of layoffs at the end of last week.

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