PRIME Minister Boris Johnson ordered cafes, pubs and bars, restaurants and gyms to close tonight in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

And a comprehensive package of financial measures was announced by the Chancellor as part of the measures to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

During the latest daily briefing, held this afternoon, the PM said: "We are telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not reopen tomorrow. Your sacrifice (through social distancing and self-isolation) means we are putting the country in a better and stronger position and we will be able to save thousands of lives."

The PM said that although at present "we need to keep people apart" the situation will be reviewed each month. Take aways services will still be permitted, he added.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that “for the first time in our history” the government will step in and help pay people’s wages through a coronavirus job retention scheme. The Chancellor said: "We're setting up a new coronavirus job retention scheme.

"Any employer in the country small or large, charitable or non-profit, will be eligible for the scheme.

"Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month - that's just above the median income."

And as part of the measures announced Mr Sunak said he would defer the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June, and pledged £1 billion for renters by boosting housing benefit and Universal Credit.

The announcements were made after Public Health England said a further 39 people who tested positive for coronavirus had died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 167.