A year ago today, British drinkers enjoyed a last night out and panic-bought alcohol before the country went into lockdown.
Ahead of the UK’s first Covid shut down, which was announced three days later, Chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively signed a blank cheque as he unveiled a huge new coronavirus bailout to cover the wages of millions of people and stop firms going bankrupt.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll jumped by 40 in its biggest daily spike to date, with 177 lives lost to the killer infection that is rapidly spreading across the UK.
But the first Briton arrested for failing to self-isolate amid the coronavirus crisis was not charged.
Tube journeys were down almost three quarters according to Transport for London, as people reduced their travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Things also began to accelerate globally, with the death toll in Italy leaping by 627 in a single day, an increase of 18.4 percent, taking the total to 4,032 – by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the virus emerged a month before.
More than 70 per cent of Italy‘s coronavirus deaths were among men, it was revealed, but scientists there admit they are mystified by the gender gap.
Here, MailOnline continues its countdown of the days leading to the anniversary of the March 23 shutdown…
March, 20, 2020: Drinkers enjoy a last night at the pub (and abandon social distancing) before UK-WIDE shutdown after PM tells cafes, bars, restaurants, gyms and leisure centres to close
Last night out: A group of friends pose for a picture and shout ‘Coronavirus!’ instead of ‘Cheese’ on Broad Street in Birmingham after Boris Johnson ordered pubs and nightclubs to close due to COVID-19 crisis
Make mine a double! Patrons were seen dancing at the Lord Stamford public house in Stalybridge on Friday night after the Prime Minister announced the unprecedented move to close all pubs to stop the spread of the coronavirus
Police were put on the alert to close any pubs or bars that refuse to comply with the government’s shutdown of social venues in the latest string of measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Forces were mobilised to enforce the shutdown, with chief constables engaging civil contingencies designed to respond to events such as rioting and terrorism, allowing longer shifts and making more officers available.
Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, officers were granted the power to revoke operating licences for several different types of venues if they are deemed to be playing a role in disorder.
It came as drinkers across the country enjoyed a final pint and panic-bought alcohol from supermarkets following Boris Johnson’s order for all pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and sports centres to close ‘as soon as they reasonably can and not to reopen tomorrow’.
Ken Marsh, head of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: ‘It’s very simple. Under licensing laws we can revoke their licences, and then they are breaking the law.’
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the government’s shutdown of pubs and restaurants, although he suggested the measures should have been enforced sooner.
But thousands of Friday night revellers ignored the government’s advice on social distancing as they danced the night away despite the coronavirus death toll rising by 40 on Friday to 177, with almost 4,000 infected, although the real figure is believed to be greater than 10,000.
A sombre-looking PM said that measures outlined on Monday for people to voluntarily self-isolate now had to go further as he ordered premises to close their doors for an initial 14 days, after which it will be reviewed.
‘We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that,’ Mr Johnson said.
The Prime Minister’s words were beamed out to revellers throughout Britain who had headed to the pub after a week at work, while others rushed to the supermarket to stock up on booze.
March, 20, 2020: Rishi Sunak’s blank cheque to save jobs and businesses: Government to cover 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month, defer VAT bills and increase welfare payments by £7billion
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Britons they will not face the coronavirus crisis ‘alone’ tonight as he unveiled a huge new coronavirus bailout
Chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively signed a blank cheque as he unveiled a huge new coronavirus bailout to cover the wages of millions of people and stop firms going bankrupt.
He said the government will cover 80 per cent of salaries up to a ceiling £2,500 a month – equivalent to the UK average wage of £30,000 a year – as long as employers keep workers on their books, and there will be no limit on the total cost.
The scheme will be up and running by the end of April and be backdated.
Some £30billion of VAT bills for the next quarter will be deferred, and there will be a £7billion boost to welfare to ‘strengthen the safety net’.
Renters will also get a £1billion fillip with housing benefit rising.
‘For the first time in our history the government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages,’ Mr Sunak said.
Experts forecasted that Mr Sunak’s intervention could save 800,000 jobs in Britain’s workforce for when the country eventually emerges through the health emergency.
Standing alongside Boris Johnson at a press conference in Downing Street, Mr Sunak made a direct appeal to businesses not to sack people.
‘The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I am asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers,’ he said.
March, 20, 2020: UK’s coronavirus death toll rises by 40 to 177 in biggest daily spike yet as 714 more Britons test positive for the life-threatening illness – taking infection toll to almost 4,000
Paramedics, ambulance and crew in a residential street in Southend-on-Sea respond to a suspected coronavirus case as the country reported its biggest spike in deaths since the outbreak began
Britain’s coronavirus death toll jumped by 40 in the biggest daily spike yet, with 177 lives lost to the killer infection that is rapidly spreading across the UK.
Health chiefs also announced 714 more Britons tested positive for the life-threatening illness, taking the country’s infection toll to almost 4,000.
NHS England announced 39 patients had died overnight, with the oldest victim a 99-year-old. Eighteen of the new deaths were recorded in London – the centre of Britain’s escalating outbreak.
Wales also recorded its third fatality. Scotland has had six coronavirus deaths, while Northern Ireland has only had one so far.
Some 3,983 patients have been struck down in the UK already, but the true size of Britain’s outbreak is currently being masked because authorities have decided to only test patients in hospital.
Officials fear up to 180,000 people may have already caught the virus, with experts estimating there are 1,000 cases for every one death.
March, 20, 2020: Kate Middleton and Prince William pay tribute to NHS heroes battling coronavirus crisis on visit to London Ambulance Service 111 call centre (as the Duke discusses doing future engagements by video link
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the first royals to visit coronavirus frontline health workers, as they met staff at a London NHS 111 call centre in Croydon south-west London
As they toured the call centre, the couple heard how the number of calls from the public had quadrupled since the crisis began
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the first royals to visit coronavirus frontline health workers, as they met staff at a London NHS 111 call centre – and, in light of new social distancing rules, discussed the idea of remote conferencing for future royal visits.
As they toured the call centre in Croydon, south-west London, on Thursday, the couple heard how the number of calls from the public had quadrupled since the crisis began.
They listened intently as they were told that the 999 service has just had the busiest three days in its history, while the 111 advice helpline was receiving ‘phenomenal’ levels of calls with some members of the public panicking over self-isolation.
The visit to the Croydon centre, which deals with south-east London, saw William and Kate – dressed in a rose pink trouser suit – adhering rigorously to the latest protocols about dealing with the disease.
There was frequent hand-sanitising, a conscious effort to socially distance themselves from people, and no handshakes.
Garrett Emmerson, the chief executive of the London Ambulance Service, said William had suggested that royal visits might change as the virus progresses through the population.
‘We are all learning new ways of behaving socially as a result of this, and indeed new ways of working,’ he explained
‘We were talking with the duke about potential future visits if we are in further stages of social distancing – we may be doing remote conferencing for events like this. That’s certainly a possibility in the coming weeks and months.’
While the couple sanitised their hands twice during the visit, one member of staff forgot the new rules when she asked William and Kate for a photograph and without thinking reached out to shake their hands.
March, 20, 2020: First Briton arrested for failing to self-isolate due to coronavirus avoids charge, £10,000 fine and three months in jail after explaining to Isle of Man police he had nowhere to go to put himself into 14-day quarantine
Police in the UK (pictured in London) were given the powers to hold people who fail to self-isolate and Isle of Man officers made their first coronavirus-related arrest overnight
The first Briton arrested for failing to self-isolate amid the coronavirus crisis was not charged.
According to Isle of Man Police, the 26-year-old man explained he had nowhere to go to put himself in quarantine, after arriving on the island from Heysham, Lancashire.
Officers held the Briton last night – 48 hours after the British Crown dependency passed emergency legislation to tackle the virus on the island in the Irish Sea.
Police have been instructed to arrest anyone who arrives on the island who fails to isolate for a 14-day period, even if they show no symptoms.
Isle of Man Police said the man arrived on the island ‘before the new measures came into place’ and handed himself to the authorities.
They added that premises have ‘now been found’ where he can self-isolate, and he is said to ‘not be presenting any symptoms’.
The arrested man, who was not named, was the first Briton to be arrested for breaching strict quarantine rules which have been imposed in an effort to stop the spread of the killer virus.
March, 20, 2020: Tube journeys fall 70% while trips on buses are down 40% as Britons work from home and avoid public transport during coronavirus outbreak
Tube journeys were down almost three quarters as people reduce their travel during the coronavirus outbreak
TfL said passenger journeys on the Underground have fallen by around 70 per cent, with trips on buses down by around 40 per cent on last year.
The new figures come after the Government encouraged people to only use public transport for essential journeys and socially distance themselves from others to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
But on Friday one passenger posted an image on Twitter showing a tube carriage full of customers.
The picture shared during the morning rush hour showed people packed in close together as they travelled into the city.
New announcements on the Underground network are reinforced the idea that only essential journeys should be made.
Deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, shared a video on Friday demonstrating the messages passengers are hearing at all tube stations.
March, 20, 2020: Mother from London, 37, is stuck in Peru with her nine-month-old baby recovering from pneumonia as she says: ‘We don’t know when we’ll get out’
Caia Daly, 37, flew out to Lima with her husband Carlos Abisrror, who is originally from Peru, and two young children in February for a four-week holiday and to see family
A London mother whose nine-month-old baby was recovering from pneumonia appealed for help after they became stranded in Peru because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Caia Daly, 37, flew out to Lima with her husband Carlos Abisrror, who is originally from Peru, and two young children in February for a four-week holiday and to see family.
But their Air France flight home, which was scheduled for Friday night, has been cancelled after the country closed its borders and now they do not know how or when they will get back to the UK.
To make matters worse, Ms Daly spent three days in hospital this week after her baby picked up a virus which led to pneumonia.
The mother is one of up to 400 British travellers who are stuck in Peru after the announcement of a 15-day military lockdown, which has seen flights banned.
Ms Daly, who is originally from Dublin, said: ‘If things get really bad here I’m worried for my children’s health, particularly with the baby recovering from pneumonia.
‘It’s a lung thing, the coronavirus does cause pneumonia and because the healthcare system here isn’t amazing it’s a concern. I’d prefer to be at home.’
Ms Daly had been hoping to get her family on another Air France flight back to Paris scheduled for Sunday but the British Embassy in Lima said on Friday evening that flight was now full.
March, 20, 2020: More than 70% of coronavirus deaths in Italy are men and scientists admit they are ‘mystified’ by the disparity between genders
More than 70 per cent of coronavirus deaths in Italy are men but scientists admit they are ‘mystified’. Pictured, a patient in intensive care in Cremona, Italy
At least 3,400 people in Italy died of the devastating disease – it announced it had a higher death toll than China – but less than 1,000 of them have been women.
Men are also more likely to pick up the infection in the first place and account for 60 per cent of confirmed cases, according to Italy’s public health research agency.
An earlier analysis found the figures were even higher – that 80 per cent of the deaths were in men and just 20 per cent were in women – but the gap has narrowed over time.
Research in China, where the pandemic started and outbreaks are now petering out, shows that at least two thirds of patients who died were male.
A reliable male to female ratio is not clear in the UK because the epidemic is still in its early stages and the death toll is considerably lower than in other nations.
Scientists say they don’t know why women seem less likely to die, but have suggested that women naturally tend to have stronger immune systems and are less likely to have long-term health conditions which make patients more vulnerable.
In China, researchers pointed the finger at men being more likely to smoke and drink, but this was a cultural factor which may be different in other countries.
March, 20, 2020: Newlyweds kiss in Italy through protective masks at their wedding as country’s death toll surges by 627 in a single day to 4,032 and hotspot region of Lombardy hires soldiers to enforce the lockdown
Diego Fernandes , 46 and Deni Salgado, 30, were married in Naples today – but wore protective masks as they kissed as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic
A newly married couple wearing surgical masks shared a kiss to celebrate their special day in Naples – but there was no confetti nor crowds of cheering guests.
Instead, Diego Fernandes , 46 and Deni Salgado, 30, held their wedding ceremony on this day with only witnesses since public gatherings are banned as part of Italy’s lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Afterwards, they were seen stepping out onto an almost deserted street, watched on by a solitary dog walker.
The Covid death toll in Italy leapt by 627 in a single day, an increase of 18.4 percent, taking the total to 4,032 – by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the virus emerged a month before.
Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious virus earlier in the week.
Until today, Italy had never recorded more than 475 deaths in a single day, while China, where the virus has slowed sharply, has never reported more than 150.
The total number of cases in Italy rose to 47,021 from a previous 41,035, an increase of 14.6 per cent, the Civil Protection Agency said.
The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remains in a critical situation, with 2,549 deaths and 22,264 cases.
March, 20, 2020: Jacinda Ardern issues rallying cry to New Zealanders to self-isolate and help elderly neighbours
Jacinda Ardern unveiled a four-level alert system to allow for improved communication of public health measures after the number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand jumped to 53
The prime minister addressed the nation in a press conference on Saturday morning after the number of COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 53 overnight.
Ms Ardern urged New Zealanders to cut non-essential internal travel and asked older residents to stay at home to to help combat the spread of infection.
Like her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, Ms Ardern appealed to Kiwis’ sense of national pride.
‘We may not have experienced anything like this in our lifetimes,’ she said.
‘But, we know how to rally, and we know how to look after one another and right now what could be more important than that?
‘Thank you for all that you’re about to do. Please, be strong, be kind and unite against COVID-19.’