PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has told pubs, cafes, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, leisure centres and gyms that they must close from tonight (Friday) to fight coronavirus.

The Prime Minister said the more effectively people followed the advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary social contact, the quicker the economy and health system could recover.

However, businesses will still be able to offer takeaways.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that the Government will pay 80 per cent of wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month.

Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said: “The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice.

“And following our plan, we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday.

“We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.

“And so following agreement with all the … devolved administrations, we are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow.

“Though, to be clear, they can continue to provide take out services.

“We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.”

Boris Johnson said the Government would be continually assessing the situation around pubs and cafes and other requested closures “to see if we can relax any of these measures”.

He added: “You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible – but there is no guarantee that you will get it.

“But you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on.”

He added: “We want you as far as possible to stay at home.”

The Prime Minister added that the situation regarding such businesses re-opening would be assessed each month.