How long have Spain and Italy been in Lockdown? Date restrictions began in other countries - and when UK lockdown could be lifted

The UK has been put under lockdown in an effort to help minimise the spread of coronavirus, and enable the NHS to cope with increasing demand for care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered that people should now only leave their homes for specific and essential reasons, with police able to issue fines and arrest those who flout the rules.

When did the UK lockdown start?

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The government imposed the lockdown on the evening of Monday 23 March.

The government imposed the UK lockdown on Monday 23 March (Photo: Shutterstock)

The restrictions have initially been put in place for a period of three weeks, until Monday 13 April.

The situation is then to be reviewed at the end of this 21 day period, and relaxed if the government believes it is safe and possible to do so.

Have the restrictions been effective?

There are signs that the rate of infection in the UK is starting to slow since the lockdown was imposed.

While the number of deaths from coronavirus has been doubling every few days, the number of confirmed cases and people being admitted to hospital for treatment has been slowing.

Scientists say the daily total of deaths will soon follow suit, although they warned there could be record highs in the coming days, with the number of cases expected to peak by Easter (12 Apr).

Until the end of March, testing for coronavirus was mostly limited to patients in hospital, but has since been extended to more NHS workers - meaning the number of confirmed cases will likely rise as a result.

Prof Keith Neal, epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham, told the BBC that the number of cases could rise again this week, but this could simply be due to more testing, rather than an increase in infection rates.

He said it will only become clear if infection rates are slowing “if the government start reporting the number of new confirmed cases in NHS workers separately from cases in patients.”

When could restrictions be lifted?

The government is to review lockdown measures later this week, now that the end of the initial three week period has been reached.

Ministers have said they want to be sure the UK has passed the peak of the outbreak before restrictions are easer, but members of the Cabinet are reportedly urging conditions to be relaxed slightly amid concerns about the impact of the lockdown on the economy.

First Secretary of State Dominic Raab played down the idea that restrictions would be lifted in any way this week at a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, stating that the most important thing at the moment is for people to keep adhering to the current guidance.

He said: “The critical thing is to take evidence-based decisions and so we’ve said that we will take any review once we’ve got the evidence that the measures are working and having the kind of impact taking us past the peak, which means that they can be responsibly done.

“We’re not at that stage yet.”

Prof Chris Whitty added: “It’s really important that we get to the point that we’re all confident that we’re beyond the peak and then at that point start making it clear what combination of things, and over what period of time, seems a sensible combination to take us through.”

When did other countries impose lockdowns?

China

Wuhan in China, where coronavirus is said to have originated, imposed what is probably the most extreme lockdown so far from 23 January, with all journeys in and out of the city banned - even for those medical or humanitarian reasons.

The lockdown in parts of China has now been gradually eased, more than two months after being imposed, although restrictions have had to be reintroduced in some areas as signs of a second wave of infections emerged.

The city of Wuhan came out of lockdown on 8 April, almost three months after coming into force.

Italy

Italy shut down its northern region on 8 March - the hardest hit by the virus - and extended restrictions to the whole country just two days later.

The lockdown measures were initially meant to be lifted on 3 April, but it has now been extended until at least 12 April.

Spain

The Spanish government declared a state of emergency on 14 March and imposed a nationwide lockdown which came into force on 16 March.

The lockdown was initially ordered for a period of two weeks, but was then extended to 11 April.

The Spanish government has said it is still considering options to extend the restrictions again, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stating who would request an extension of the state of emergency until 26 April.

The lockdown could extend even further beyond that if the government decides that the measures are still necessary to contain the virus.

France

France went into full lockdown on 17 March, with citizens banned from leaving their homes except to buy food or essentials, visit the doctors, or travel to a job that is certified as not being possible to do from home.

The country is on strict lockdown until at least 15 April, although it could yet be extended further.

Germany

Germany has been under lockdown since 22 March, with restaurants, leisure facilities, and most shops closed.

The regulations are due to be lifted on 19 April, with the country drawing up plans including mandatory wearing of masks in public, and limits on gatherings, to help ensure a phased return to normal life.

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