British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has placed the UK on lockdown in a bid to tackle the coronavirus, threatening police fines for anyone who ignores new measures including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.

Mr Johnson detailed a short list of reasons why individuals can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials items.

He ordered people to only leave the house to shop for basic necessities "as infrequently as possible" and to perform one form of exercise a day.

Or they could seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if "absolutely necessary", he said in a televised address from within Downing Street.

"That's all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home," he said.

"You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.

"If you don't follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings."

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To ensure people follow the rules, Mr Johnson ordered the immediate closure of non-essential shops including those selling electronics and clothing.

All public gatherings of more than two people - other than those you live with - will be barred, Mr Johnson said.

Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

And, while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue.

Mr Johnson said the measures will be "under constant review" and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks' time if the evidence allows.

Coronavirus graphic

A further 46 people who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in England to 303, NHS England said.

Four more people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland have died, taking the death toll there to 14.

Meanwhile in Wales a further four patients have also died, bringing the total number of deaths there due to the virus to 16. 

Latest figures show Britain has now recorded 6,650 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

At the weekend, many parts of Britain, including national parks in Wales and Scotland, were packed. The government has said social distancing to limit close-contact transmission of the virus is vital.

"It's very selfish," British Health Secretary Mr Hancock told BBC radio earlier today. "The National Health Service is doing everything it can and preparing for the spread of this virus.

"If people go within two metres of others who they don't live with then they're helping to spread the virus - and the consequences of that costs lives and it means that, for everyone, this will go on for longer."