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British government advises against panic buying as UK begins lockdown

Mar 22, 2020

London (UK) March 22: The British government on Saturday advised against panic buying as the UK began applying lockdown measures.
In a press conference, British environment secretary George Eustice, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson and National Medical Director of NHS England Stephen Powis advised the public against stockpiling goods.
They said there has been an "increase in demand" but reminded the audience that there is "no shortage of food production" in the UK.
"More food is arriving everyday. We ask people to buy only what they need and think of others when purchasing", they said.
Speaking from platforms with messages reading "Stay at home", "Protect the NHS" and "Save lives", they said that many UK businesses with operations in other European countries had observed a similar phenomenon than the current British panic-buying: "Demand spikes after declarations by government, and then slows down again."
They noted that the British public had particularly panic-bought toilet paper, "for reasons that haven't quite been explained", because it is produced locally and well-stocked.
They repeated the need for applying social distancing and self-isolation measures set out by the British government: "If fewer people are infected, there are fewer deaths and fewer pressure on our health services. The strategy is absolutely design to suppress and reduce the virus and the number of people infected."
They also reminded the public about common responsibility, saying that it is "absolutely crucial that everybody in the country follow the guidance".
"This is all our problem", they said. "If you do it, you are saving somebody's life. it's as simple and stark as that."
Friday's Lockdown announcement
This came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that cafes, pubs and restaurants are to close in the evening in strengthened measures against the spread of COVID-19.
The government also unveiled an "unprecedented" package of financial measures to keep the economy afloat.
Speaking during his daily briefing from Downing Street, Johnson said that "we are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow, though to be clear, they can continue to provide take out services".
Other public places including clubs, leisure centres and gyms have also been asked to close on Friday.
"We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us," Johnson added, thanking people for following advice given to stay at home as much as possible.
'Unprecedented' financial package
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also presented what he said is the "most comprehensive" financial package in the world to ensure British workers and businesses weather the economic impact of the public health crisis.
He described it as "unprecedented in the history of the British state".
Sunak said companies will be able to apply for government grants to pay for salaries and that it will also cover 80% of wages of employees who are not working.
Businesses will also be able to defer VAT payments while business interruption loans will now be interest-free for 12 months, instead of the six months previously announced.
These measures should inject £30 billion into the economy and a further £7 billion has been earmarked for the welfare system, Sunak said.
"In the face of a generation-defining moment, we want to remember that we stood together," he added.
'Turning the tide'
Johnson said on Thursday that the country can "turn the tide within the next 12 weeks" on the spread of COVID-19 but did not rule out imposing a lockdown if people did not respect social distancing measures.
"I'm absolutely confident that we can send the virus packing," Johnson said during a press briefing from Downing Street.
He added that the country was in negotiations to buy antibodies tests that could enable people to know whether they had had the virus. He said the test "has the potential to be a total game-changer" has it would allow people who had unknowingly contracted and recovered from the disease to return to work.
He called on people to follow the advice already given to avoid gatherings and visiting non-essential places including restaurants and pubs.
He stressed however that "nothing is ruled out" and that the government "may have to consider going further" if these social distancing measures are not followed scrupulously.
High fatality rate
On Thursday evening, the UK had 3,269 reported cases and 144 deaths
Data released earlier in the day had revealed that the country has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world with 40 deaths per 1,000 infections - similar to China's.
When compared to all countries that have reported more than 1,000 cases, it is the third highest in Europe and the fifth-highest overall.
But the UK has the 10th highest number of infections globally.
The UK government has received criticism for its response to the pandemic as other countries have declared national emergencies, closing bars, restaurants and schools and banning large gatherings.
The highest death rate affected is in Italy, where more than 83 cases out of a 1,000 are fatal.
On Wednesday, t?he number of deaths in the country rose by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000.
Iran, China and Spain all have higher death rates than the UK, per 1,000 cases.
Meanwhile in Germany, where there are more than 12,000 active cases of coronavirus, only 31 deaths have been reported. With this ratio, just 2 of every 1,000 people who are diagnosed with coronavirus die.
Among European countries with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland all have a low mortality rate for COVID-19.
Source: Euro News