What 'stay at home' means when you're homeless

(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED HOMELESS MAN FROM ROMANIA, SAYING:

"Everybody's very scared, everybody doesn't want to help everybody. It's chaos, it's chaos."

That is the voice of one of thousands of people who live on Britain's streets, who cannot stay indoors as the country has been ordered to by Prime Minister Boris Johnson - because they do not have a home to go to.

They have little choice but to defy the nationwide lockdown that has been put in place by the government to limit the spread of the infection.

Many are seeking rooms at homeless shelters in a bid to stay safe, like Mohamed Sisi, who lives on the streets of London.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HOMELESS MAN, MOHAMED SISI, SAYING:

"Two policemen came to me and they asked me if I have a place to go, and I asked them what the reason was, and they told me everything will need to be locked down because of the virus, and it's for my own safety. And I told them 'yeah but I'm now homeless, I don't have nowhere to go.' So he told me to go to a homeless center, maybe I can find there someone who can help me with that. So, yeah I've been there, but no one was there, and everything's closed right now."

Finding shelter isn't the only issue homeless people are facing during the crisis.

With the majority of shops closed, some have concerns over where to find food.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HOMELESS MAN, MOHAMED SISI, SAYING:

"I don't like to steal, but that's the first way you get when you have nothing to eat. And, yeah, if everything is closed of course you get panicked for food and everything. You don't know what to do, you don't know where to go, it's not nice."

Three hundred rooms in London hotels owned by the Intercontinental Hotels Group have been booked for the next 12 weeks for homeless people to self-isolate in, the city's mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Saturday (March 22).

Homeless charity St Mungo's coordinated the scheme and ride-hailing taxi drivers volunteered to ferry people to their rooms.

But the exact locations of the hotel or hotels involved have not been made public.

And it's so far unclear what would happen to those living at the hotel once that period is over.

Activists fear many more people will need to find places to stay, and that if the epidemic worsens, charities may struggle to keep their services running.

More than 8,850 people slept on the streets from April 2018 to March 2019 in London alone, according to St Mungo's data.