UK deploys 500 transit police to prevent unnecessary travel amid coronavirus outbreak

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Britain deployed 500 transit police Tuesday night as it stepped up efforts to prevent unnecessary travel during the coronavirus outbreak.

Their mission was to take sure that commuters were making only vitally needed trips – such as to report for essential work duties.

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“The measures announced yesterday by the prime minister are there to save lives, which is part of the work our officers do every day,” Sean O’Callaghan, assistant chief constable for the British Transport Police, told The Sun, referring to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plea to the public to comply with containment measures.

"We are supporting rail operators and those key workers making their journeys home tonight by deploying 500 officers across the rail network nationally,” O’Callaghan added. “They will be patrolling stations, supporting railway staff and reminding the public of the urgent need to follow the government advice - only those making essential journeys for work should be using the Tube and rail network.

“We strongly urge the rest of the public to do the right thing and help us save lives by staying at home and slowing the spread of the virus.”

On Monday, Johnson ordered the closure of most stores and banned gatherings for three weeks in an effort to tackle the spread of the virus, also known as COVID-19.

Britain had already closed schools, bars and restaurants and urged people to stay home -- but many people defied the government’s guidance on social distancing.

Emergency services personnel are seen near the Southgate Underground station in London in an undated photo (Associated Press).

Emergency services personnel are seen near the Southgate Underground station in London in an undated photo (Associated Press).

In addition, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on employers to have more of their employees work at home.

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“Ignoring these rules means more lives lost,” Khan said, according to the Evening Standard.

As of early Wednesday, Britain had more than 8,100 cases of the virus and had seen 422 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this story.