Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to make statement to the country at 8.30pm

Ian Collier, news reporter

The prime minister has cancelled his daily coronavirus news conference and will instead make a "statement to the country" tonight at 8.30pm.

Boris Johnson has been chairing an emergency COBRA meeting over the pandemic this afternoon.

It comes after he warned the UK is heading towards a lockdown, after appeals to the public to stay indoors were largely ignored during a sunny Mother's Day.

Mr Johnson said further measures would be considered in the next 24 hours to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if people fail to stay 2m (6.5ft) apart.

He admitted being outdoors was "crucial for health, physical and mental wellbeing", but warned people not to think that "fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity".

Sky's chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: "This will be a television broadcast, we understand. Clearly for the prime minister to move from his daily briefings and news conferences to a televised address to the nation suggests there is a big announcement on the way.

"That big announcement is almost certainly to be those tougher measures that he was talking about yesterday. The phrase 'lockdown' has been used by some - it was not used by the prime minister yesterday.

"Some MPs have said they don't like that phrase because it means different things in different places.

"What it almost certainly means is tougher restrictions on movement, possibly curfews, travel bans and so on. What it probably means is the UK will follow the sort of action that's been taken in countries like France, Italy and Spain.

:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

"During the Commons debate, MPs have pointed out that the number of deaths from the virus in the UK are now higher than they were in the countries like Spain and Italy when similar restrictions were introduced."

On Monday morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News' Kay Burley@Breakfast: "We will enforce and bring in further strong measures if we need to - but I'd much rather people follow the rules themselves, it would be much more straight forward."

More follows...