Boris Johnson has announced a massive ramping up of restrictions on the public in the latest stage of the fight to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Warning that the health service "could not possibly cope" without a national effort to slow the virus's spread, the Prime Minister said people would only be allowed to leave their home for certain purposes – with the police given powers to act if people fail to comply.

People will only be allowed out to shop for baic necessities – infrequently – take one form of exercise a day, for any medical need, or to travel to and from work where it is necessary and cannot be done from home.

Police will have the power to disperse gatherings or to impose fines for those who do not comply.

All shops selling non-essential goods will be shut, as will libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies with the exception of funerals will be banned, and all gatherings of more than two people who do not live together in a public place will be banned.

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.

"To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it – meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well," Mr Johnson said.

"So it's vital to slow the spread of the disease.

"Because that is the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS's ability to cope – and save more lives."

He added: "The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.

"And yet it is also true that there is a clear way through.

"Day by day we are strengthening our amazing NHS with 7,500 former clinicians now coming back to the service.

"With the time you buy – by simply staying at home – we are increasing our stocks of equipment. We are accelerating our search for treatments. We are pioneering work on a vaccine. And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer."