British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced stricter new curbs on movement in the United Kingdom to halt the spread of novel coronavirus, urging people to simply stay at home.
"From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction -- you must stay at home," Johnson made the announcement during a TV address to the nation, "Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households."
"People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes," he added, listing four reasons for which citizens can go outside; shopping for basic necessities, doing one form of exercise a day, for any medical need, or going to work if it is absolutely vital.
Police have powers to enforce the rules, including fines and dispersing gatherings, according to Johnson. Meanwhile, all shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close, and places like libraries, playgrounds, and outdoor gyms will be closed. All social events are banned and even gatherings of more than two people in public, except for people one lives with, are banned as well.
The tougher new measures will be in place for at least three weeks from Monday evening, according to the government.
Johnson imposed the most stringent restrictions seen in Britain since the end of World War II.
The government has been stepping up its measures in recent weeks. It was only on March 20 when it announced that cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants, etc. must close.
But during last weekend, large groups of people were seen in some parks and tourist spots, prompting concerns that many people might be ignoring government's advice of avoiding social contact.
Anyone looking at the cyclists and runners crowding New York's parks, hikers thronging Britain's beauty spots and groups hanging out at California's busy beaches would have no clue that a dangerous pandemic has the world in its grip.
When the outbreak in Italy began, authorities began by locking down affected "red zone" areas in the north. As cases continued to spread, the entire country was put on lockdown on March 9, with those who break the rules threatened with $232 fines and six months' prison time.
But hundreds of thousands of Italians have since been given police citations for flouting the ban, and a Chinese Red Cross official last week said Italy's measures -- among the strictest in Europe -- weren't strict enough.
By the weekend, authorities were forced to issue even more stringent restrictions on people and businesses.
While Europe has now taken over from China as the epicenter of the outbreak, many Western countries do not appear to have learned from Italy's example.
But Nick Chater, professor of Behavioral Science at Warwick Business School, told CNN that this did not go far enough, saying western leaders had been "very mixed in their messaging" as they gradually closed bars, restaurants, theaters and schools over the past week -- and urged the public to listen to the advice to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"When people are being advised quite gently to do something, I don't think one should view them as being necessarily outrageously unreasonable in going ahead and doing it anyway," he said. "Because the message they're implicitly getting is it isn't all that important, because if it was really important, we tell you. So we don't say things like, 'we advise you to stop at red lights, we advise you to drive on this side of the road' ... We just say you just have to. If you don't, you're breaking the law."
Western governments have been reluctant to take the lockdown measures that were quickly enforced in China after the coronavirus outbreak began.
But Chater says these comments aren't enough. "There's a huge communication failure," he said. "We've been looking at China, we can also look at Korea, we can see that there are strategies that actually do work, so it's not purely theoretical.
"In China, the main thing has been just a very heavy lockdown," he said. "But we know that a really severe lockdown will work.
But if western leaders want people to do more, they must make it "mandatory," says Chater -- before it's too late.