UK government set to U-turn and ban mass gatherings to combat coronavirus

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspodent Emily Morgan

Mass gatherings are set to be banned as part of the battle against coronavirus in a significant shift in the Government's position.

Boris Johnson had faced criticism for not introducing such measures, despite similar steps being taken by other European countries as the pandemic worsens.

Emergency legislation bringing in beefed-up powers will be published next week and there could also be a move towards more people working from home, a Whitehall source said.

The announcement comes as the UK deals with a rising number of cases of the virus and a death toll of 11.

A Whitehall 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.

"There are many complex considerations to make all these measures as effective as possible. We will make the right decisions at the right time based on the best scientific evidence."

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Earlier on Friday the World Health Organisation said Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic and Donald Trump indicated he might add the UK to a list of countries facing a US travel ban.

Scores of major sporting and cultural events have already been suspended, despite the Government not announcing a ban on mass events in its latest guidance on Thursday.

Busy scenes in London's theatreland. Credit: PA