Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions amid rising concerns of the coronavirus

By Conchita Margaret Widjojo
March 24, 2020 12:43 PM
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Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Charles and the rest of the United Kingdom are now in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a televised statement from Downing Street on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions that will curb U.K. citizens’ everyday lives in an attempt to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus, termed COVID-19.

The only exceptions allowed by the government for people to leave their homes would be for exercise once a day, to shop for essential items “as infrequently as possible,” to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary,” and to fulfill any medical or care needs.

“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction — you must stay at home,” Johnson said in his address. “Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.”

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Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth in July 2019
| Credit: Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty

Shops selling non-essential goods have been ordered to shutdown and public gatherings that consist of two or more people are prohibited (excluding people you reside with), thus all social events, including weddings and baptisms, will be canceled. The only social gatherings exempt from cancellation are funerals.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings,” the prime minister continued in his announcement.

Last week, Queen Elizabeth left London’s Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle to reunite with her husband Prince Philip who brought in by a helicopter after being apart for more than a month.

Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince William and Prince George
| Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty

Meanwhile, other members of the royal family are following in her lead by self-isolating as well.

Kate Middleton, 38, Prince William, 37, and their three children — Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, who turns 2 in April, are believed to be staying at their Sandringham country estate, Anmer Hall, which is about 110 miles north of London in Norfolk.

The family of five is based at Kensington Palace in London, but they often escape to their second home — a gift from the monarch for the couple’s 2011 wedding — during breaks from school. Given that Prince George and Princess Charlotte‘s school is closing in favor of online learning due to the pandemic, the children can do their home schooling from the country.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles
| Credit: Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty

Prince William’s father Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are at Birkhall, their 50,000-acre Balmoral estate in Scotland. The home, always a favorite of the prince, was given to him by his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

After leaving the U.K. earlier this month, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry returned to Vancouver Island in Canada to reunite with baby Archie, who stayed behind while his parents wrapped up their official royal engagements before their exit as senior working royals on March 31.

Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Royal/Instagram

Last week, most of the royals released their own respective statements of encouragement amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Prince William sharing a personal video message on his and Kate’s joint social media pages, Prince Harry and Meghan speaking on the need to support each other through their Instagram and the Queen releasing her own statement about supporting her country in a time of need.

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“As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty,” the 93-year-old monarch said in a statement.

“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge,” the statement concluded. “You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.