• ESS Consultants

Coronavirus: Mass gatherings to be banned under government plans to combat COVID-19 spread

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

The UK government is planning to introduce emergency laws next week to ban mass gatherings in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

So far, ministers have resisted such a move even though some major sporting events including the London Marathon and all Premier League matches have already been postponed.

And Ireland is to close all schools and childcare facilities and other public spaces like museums, while Scotland has banned gatherings of more than 500 people.

Eleven people have died in the UK after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, and the number of confirmed infections has reached 798 - an increase of 208 over the last 24 hours.

A Whitehall source said the government has drafted emergency legislation to stop mass gatherings and compensate organisations.

The source said: "Ministers are working with the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week.

"We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home."

The Whitehall source said the government, in dealing with coronavirus, has been "concerned" about the burden that large events put on public services including the NHS and police.

The source added: "We have drafted emergency legislation to give the government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organisations. We will publish this legislation next week."