Published: 16:30, 23 March 2020
| Updated: 17:44, 24 March 2020
The Prime Minister has put the country in lockdown and if people are caught out without a good reason, they could face a fine.
Boris Johnson addressed the nation from Downing Street a short while ago and said to beat the virus, people must comply.
He said: "We need to fight the disease, without a huge national effort, there will be no health service, there would not be one in the world that would be able to cope.
"If too many become ill, the NHS will not be able handle the numbers of people getting ill.
"It is vital to slow the spread of the disease and save more lives.
"We are asking people to stay at home.
"From this evening you must say home. People are only allowed out to go shopping, exercise together with their family, get medical care and travel to work.
"So from this evening it's a very simple instruction you must stay at home.
"Only shopping, exercise, one form a day, with members of your household, medical care and travelling to and from work.
"That's all, these are the only reasons you should leave home. If your friends ask you to meet, say no.
"If you do not follow the rules police will have powers to ensure compliance.
"We will close all shops selling non-essential goods, and other premises, stop all gatherings of more than two people and weddings will be cancelled."
Mr Johnson said the Government will look at the rules again in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows they can be.
You will only be allowed to leave your house for the following reasons:
All UK nationals travelling abroad have also been advised by the Foreign Office to return home, if commercial flights are still available.
The department said it was working to keep routes open, but that international travel was becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.
Addressing the nation tonight, Mr Johnson added: "There are no easy options, the way ahead is going to be hard.
"Many lives will sadly be lost, but there is a clear way though.
"Simply staying at home is key and we are working on a pioneering vaccine and buying a million testing kits.
"I want to thank everyone. Each and everyone of us is now obliged to join together to halt this disease and protect the NHS."
"There are no easy options, the way ahead is going to be hard..."
Mr Johnson's daily coronavirus news conference was cancelled and, instead, he made the statement to the country tonight at 8.30pm.
Beforehand, a Number 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister would make an address to the nation from Number 10 on "new measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak".
He said flouting the rules would only slow down efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, also known as Covid-19, which has now claimed the lives of 335 people in the UK including two in Kent.
There had been calls for stricter measures after appeals to the public to stay indoors were ignored over the weekend, with people continuing to gather together in groups despite the government advising people to maintain a distance of at least two metres from others.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been pressed by a Kent MP about the lack of testing for the coronavirus.
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark took the government to task during a debate on new legislation that will give emergency powers to ministers on tackling the crisis.
The former business minister questioned why testing was not being carried out as much as it was in other countries.
Speaking in The Commons, he asked for an explanation on why fewer tests were being carried out in the UK.
“Can he explain, given the fact the development of this test was by this country, why it is so much less available than in other countries?”
Mr Hancock replied: “We have done more testing here than in other countries; there are some countries which are ahead of us; we have tested more than France and America but not as much as Italy.
"It is something we are putting a huge amount of effort into. We are increasingly using private companies to do the testing.”
The government announced last week it was trialling drugs that could save the lives of people infected with the coronavirus.
The first in Kent was discovered at Maidstone studios on March 2, while the second was someone known to the person involved in the first case.
Relatives of the second victim, 83-year-old Shirley Brown, were left in anguish after they were unable to hold her hand as she lay dying in hospital.
Across the UK, 6,650 people have now tested positive for coronavirus and the number of deaths has reached 335.
The government's chief scientific adviser earlier said 20,000 coronavirus fatalities would be a "good outcome" given the seriousness of the outbreak.