16 March 2020 – Prime Minister issues social distancing advisory, tells Britons to avoid non-essential contact

Type of Intervention: Advisory
Sectors Involved: Health, Private Sector and Businesses, Social Services, Tourism
Level of Jurisdiction: National
Lead People/Agency: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Overview: Boris Johnson urges the British public to avoid all unnecessary contact and travel and stay away from pubs and theatres, following expert modelling which suggests the approach could cut the estimated coronavirus death toll from 260,000 to 20,000.

The prime minister announces a series of stringent steps, including 14 days of self-isolation for a whole household if anyone displays symptoms of the disease. Anyone who can work from home, should, he said.

Additional detailed guidance on social distancing measures was also published.
Full details here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-coronavirus-16-march-2020

Other links: 1 2 3 4 5
Type of Justification: Advice of INTERNAL government advisory committee or group
Source of Evidence or Justification: National – academic
Evidence/Justification:
SAGE: “Today, we need to go further, because according to SAGE [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] it looks as though we’re now approaching the fast growth part of the upward curve.And without drastic action, cases could double every 5 or 6 days”.
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-coronavirus-16-march-2020

As a key input to SAGE (via Prof Neil Ferguson, one of its members), the latest Imperial College modelling – “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand” finds that “optimal mitigation policies might reduce peak healthcare demand by ⅔ and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over. For countries able to achieve it, this leaves suppression as the preferred policy option.”