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United Kingdom
The nature of devolution in the United Kingdom meant that each of the four countries of the UK had its own response to COVID-19 with different rules and restrictions at different times and the UK government, on behalf of England, moving more quickly to lift restrictions. Prior to 18 March 2020, the UK government did not impose any form of social distancing or mass quarantine measures and was criticised for a perceived lack of intensity in its response to concerns faced by the public. On 16 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised against non-essential travel and social contact, suggesting people work from home and avoid venues such as pubs, restaurants, and theatres. On 20 March, the government announced all leisure establishments such as pubs and gyms were to close as soon as possible, and promised to pay up to 80 percent of workers' wages to a limit of £2,500 per month to prevent unemployment.

On 23 March, the prime minister announced tougher social distancing measures, banning gatherings of more than two people and restricting travel and outdoor activity to that deemed strictly necessary. Unlike previous measures, these restrictions were enforceable by police through fines and dispersal of gatherings. Most businesses were ordered to close, with exceptions for those deemed "essential", including supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, hardware shops, petrol stations, and garages.

On 24 April it was reported that one of the more promising vaccine trials had begun in England; the government pledged more than 50 million pounds towards research. To ensure UK health services had sufficient capacity to treat people with COVID-19, a number of temporary critical care hospitals were built. The first to be operational was the 4000-bed capacity NHS Nightingale Hospital London, constructed within the ExCeL convention centre over nine days. On 4 May, it was announced that the Nightingale Hospital in London would be placed on standby and remaining patients transferred to other facilities; Nightingale had "treated 51 patients" in the first three weeks it was open.

On 5 May, official figures revealed Britain had the worst COVID-19 death toll in Europe, prompting calls for an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. The death toll in the United Kingdom was nearly 29,427 (of those who tested positive for the virus). Later, it was calculated at 32,313, after taking the official death count for Scotland and Northern Ireland into account. On 16 April it was reported that the UK would have first access to the Oxford vaccine, due to a prior contract; should the trial be successful, some 30 million doses in the UK would be available.


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