Millions of workers to stay home on Monday with UK on war coronavirus footing

Britain's workforce is set to be decimated this morning with millions ditching the commute to stay home and help stop the coronavirus spread.

The country is rapidly moving to a war footing, with sporting events banned, businesses closing or operating with skeleton staff while other workers are being asked to work from home.

Trains are set to be much less crowded than usual while the chances of congestion on the roads is also likely to decrease.

It comes at the start of a week when Boris Johnson will give daily briefings to the public on the crisis and stricter 'social distancing' measures expected to be enforced.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed over the weekend that the elderly could be forced to stay at home for four months in a bid to protect them.

Fourteen more UK deaths were reported on Sunday, while the number of cases rose by 251 to 1,391.

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Nick Matthews, 59, became the UK's youngest victim of the infection after he died in Bristol having recently returned from a holiday in badly-hit Spain.

The UK has seen shoppers panic-buying goods such as toilet rolls and pasta in supermarkets this weekend, with retailers and the government warning people to stop this as supplies are not running out.

Meanwhile, in Europe, 368 more deaths were recorded in Italy while cases rose sharply in France, Spain and Germany too.

Major companies in London — including JPMorgan, Deloitte, Google and HSBC — have activated contingency plans such as staff working from back-up locations and from home.

Apple, Nike and Urban Outfitters have announced they will be closing stores, with other retailers set to follow suit.

Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at Aberdeen University, told T he Sun : “The Government has not yet told offices to close, so businesses taking steps to get staff working from home are doing so as a precaution.

“I would say it is still unlikely that you will contract the virus by going into work but if you have the option to work from home then that will reduce the risk even more, so why not?

“The question is, how close do you come into contact with others in work?

“This virus needs 15 minutes of close contact with someone carrying it for you to have a reasonable chance of contracting it.

“For example, if you work as a checkout operator in a shop then that interaction with a shopper is not likely to be long enough for it to jump from A to B.

“It’s the same with many client-facing jobs. For example, a waiter wouldn’t be at a table long enough to contract the virus from a diner.

“But if someone who is infected coughs or sneezes on you directly then the droplets can infect you — that will be a much higher risk.”

Mr Hancock also admitted earlier that the NHS does not have enough ventilators to fight coronavirus.

And it is reported that the police will have the power to enforce isolation periods, with those deliberately breaching them punishable with jail time or a £1,000 fine.

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