Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that people should “avoid mass gatherings” in a statement made to the public, 16 March.

Although Prime Minister Johnson did not impose an outright ban on, or the temporary suspension, of mass gatherings, he instructed the public not to attend them. He went on to say that there would be no support from public services for any mass gatherings.

Specifically, he has called for people to avoid all “non-essential travel”, including visiting theatres, cinemas and public venues.

Answering a question from a journalist on whether the government is forcing people not to go to theatres and other such public venues, the prime minister replied: “The government is giving ‘very strong advice’ that places like theatres should close.

He added: “The Government has the power to force closures”. However, he said he does not think it will be necessary to use those powers.

In his post-Cobra meeting with the press Johnson said listed five key areas:

  • Anyone who lives with someone who has a cough or a temperature should stay at home for 14 days
  • People should start working from home where they possibly can
  • Avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues
  • Only use the NHS when we really need to
  • From tomorrow government will no longer be “supporting” mass gatherings using emergency workers

The advice puts the emphasis on people not attending mass gatherings but falls short of calling on organisers to cancel events.