Britain is now in complete coronavirus lockdown as the UK government ups its measures to curb the spreading of Coronavirus.
On Monday evening, Boris Johnson announced that people in the UK “must stay at home” and may only leave for a limited number of reasons.
These limited purposes include shopping for necessities; one form of exercise a day, e.g. a run, walk or cycle; to travel to and from work if necessary; for serious medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person.
All stores selling non-essential goods, including hair and nail salons, hotels, gyms, retail stores and B&Bs were ordered to close as well as places of worship. The only places that will remain open are food supermarkets, banks, post offices, pet shops and restaurants with takeaway options.
Weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies have been banned until the lockdown is lifted. Funerals are being allowed to go ahead, but Boris Johnson has advised people to remain at least two metres away from one another.
The government has also prohibited gatherings of more than two people, implying social distancing is imperative. Any person suspected of having the coronavirus will be forced into quarantine and should anyone disobey these rules, police have been given the power to enforce fines of GBP 30 and make arrests.
Why has the UK lockdown been ordered?
The news of a UK lockdown came after the number of positive coronavirus cases in Britain surpassed 6,650. According to GOV, as of 9 am on 23rd March, a total of 77,295 people have been tested, and of those who confirmed positive, 335 patients have died. The UK’s risk level has also been raised too high.
Boris Johnson felt it necessary to enact these measures as hospitals have been crying out for help and that’s with the UK being weeks away from the peak of the outbreak. The Prime Minister stated that the country is facing “a moment of national emergency.” He then went on to tell the public that following UK lockdown coronavirus rules are vital to protect the NHS and save lives.
How long is the UK on lockdown for?
The coronavirus lockdown will be imposed for at least three weeks in the UK before being reviewed again.
Experts have stated that on average, an infected person transmits the virus to 2.5 people in about five days. Meaning over 30 days, that one person will have infected more than 400 people.
The government is hoping that by enforcing a UK lockdown and decreasing a person’s social exposure, this will dramatically delay the spread and reduce the strain on the NHS. Scientists have said that if a person reduces their social exposure by half, the first infection will only result in 15 infections after 30 days.
How many countries are on coronavirus lockdown?
Experts have estimated that around 1.7 billion people, which amounts to approximately 1 in every five individuals are living in lockdown across the globe. Aside from the UK, China, New Zealand, Norway, El Salvador and over ten EU countries are in a state of lockdown, and according to data released by the WHO (World Health Centre), Europe is now the “epicentre of the pandemic.”
The United States, which has the third most coronavirus cases worldwide, is yet to enforce a lockdown.
As of 11 am on 24th March, Worldometers reported that there had been 392,159 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and 17,138 deaths. Fortunately, 102,850 cases have recovered from the deadly virus.
How is the coronavirus lockdown affecting UK expatriates looking to return?
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has stated any Brits travelling abroad or looking to come home should return to the UK immediately. The travel restrictions being imposed by countries and the suspension of flights is making international travel extremely difficult.
Airlines are facing troubling times due to the impact of Covid-19 and may ground more fleets to cope with the pressures of the virus. Further closures to air routes are also likely to take place within the next 48 hours. Without bailout packages, the situation remains bleak for the air transport industry, so it’s best that expats who are looking to return act promptly.
At present, the UK is still operating a limited number of repatriation flights to bring Britons home. For those unable to return due to closed land borders, the government has advised following the guidelines of local authorities.
Tax authorities are also giving special treatment to expatriates stuck in the UK and at risk of losing their non-resident status due to the coronavirus pandemic. HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) stated they would be treating British citizens in quarantine, self-isolation, advised or unable to travel out of the UK due to border closures as exceptional circumstances.
How has the UK lockdown affected GBP currency markets?
In the latest GBP currency news, it seems the coronavirus lockdown has inspired a little confidence in foreign exchange markets.
Previously, the UK faced criticism for not acting quickly enough to curb the outbreak which weakened the British pound but following the Prime Ministers speech, GBP rose immediately. Although the impact has been limited, this shows that investors are optimistic about the measures being taken to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
The pound to dollar exchange rate is currently trading around (GBP/USD) 1.16043 and the pound to euro exchange rate has jumped into the region of (GBP/EUR) 1.08049. However, the Euro continues to remain reasonably safe in currency markets which puts pressure on GBP/EUR, but analysts predict that pound Sterling has the potential to rebound.
China, which is where the virus originated, seems to be emerging out of the coronavirus crisis after strict lockdown measures and stock markets have rallied in response.
If the actions taken by the British government generate the same results, the pound will recover. It is already drawing support based on this premise, showing a sharp reversal of the performance it had at the beginning of the week.