UK Politics: FTSE 100 falls again as Government steps up Coronavirus restrictions

The PM has said stricter measures could be introduced
Boris Johnson is urging people to take government advice more seriously
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The FTSE 100 tumbled again on Monday morning, following the latest government restrictions on movement and business activity to tackle Coronavirus. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

"Please follow the advice and don't think that fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity."

- Boris Johnson

The government has stepped up its efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, with Boris Johnson announcing on Friday that all cafes, pubs and restaurants - with the exception of takeaway food - were being told to close.

Nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres were also told to shut down "as soon as they reasonably can".

In his latest update on Sunday evening, the prime minister warned the government was considering placing further restrictions on public movement unless people start taking social distancing advice more seriously.

He said a decision on whether to put the UK into lockdown - which would mean stopping people from leaving their homes unless it's essential - would be taken "in the next 24 hours".

In the wake of the latest business restrictions and indications of tighter controls on movement, the FTSE 100 dropped by more than 4% in early trading on Monday.

Lockdown looming?

Johnson's press conference on Sunday evening reflected the government's growing concern over many people appearing to ignore advice on stopping any unnecessary social contact to contain the spread of coronavirus.

There were crowds of visitors at parks, beaches and open spaces across the UK over the weekend, with the authority that manages Snowdonia National Park saying the area witnessed its "busiest ever visitor day in living memory" on Saturday.

Speaking as the coronavirus death toll in the UK climbed to 281, the prime minister acknowledged that being able to go outside is "crucial for health and mental and physical wellbeing".

"But please follow the advice and don't think that fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity," he added.

"You have to stay two metres apart; you have to follow the social distancing advice. And even if you think you are personally invulnerable, there are plenty of people you can infect and whose lives will then be put at risk."

Johnson urged the public to "take this advice seriously" and said the government was constantly reviewing its measures and was prepared to implement further restrictions if necessary.

The next step is thought to be a full lockdown similar to that seen in countries like Italy, where all unnecessary public movement and social activity has been banned.

"We need to think about the kind of measures we've seen elsewhere - other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people's movements altogether," the prime minister said.

He confirmed the government would be considering these constraints "very actively" today.

Markets feel the effects

The combination of the government's tougher actions and various other factors set the stage for another bruising session on the FTSE 100 on Monday, which slumped by 4.6% at the open, before regaining some ground during morning trading. It was more than 3.8% down towards the end of the morning session.

This eliminated the gains made on Friday, which came after the Bank of England made the historic decision to cut interest rates to an all-time low of 0.1% and the government announced further measures to prop up businesses and the economy.

Monday morning trends on the markets were also influenced by developments in the US, where the Senate failed to pass an emergency funding package that would pump more than $1 trillion (£870 billion) into the economy to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Democrats blocked the economic stimulus bill, citing concerns that it favoured businesses over workers.

The FTSE 100 wasn't the only index feeling the effects of external pressures on Monday, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index down by nearly 4.9% and Shanghai's SSE Composite Index falling by more than 3%.

Wall Street is set to open in negative territory on Monday morning, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down by 5% at one point. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite experienced similar falls.

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