Prime minister pauses lockdown restriction easing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). - Credit: PA

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced a halt to the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The further easing of lockdown in England due on August 1 would have allowed small wedding receptions and the reopening of bowling alleys and casinos. But this has now been postponed for at least two weeks due to a rise in cases of coronavirus.

Previously weddings taking place this weekend had been given the green light to host 30 guests – though this has now been revoked.

It also means that close-contact services such as beauty treatments and facial piercing will no longer be permitted.

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However, a spokeswoman for number 10 confirmed that tattoo parlours and beauty salons could reopen – but would not allowed to perform these closer contact treatments.

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Mr Johnson also said that there would be a greater police presence on streets to make sure guidance around wearing face coverings was followed.

Mr Johnson said: “We had hoped to reopen in England a number of higher risk settings that had remained closed. Today, I am afraid we are postponing these changes for at least a fortnight.

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That means that, until 15 August at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed. Indoor performances will not resume.

“Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place.

“Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, but ceremonies can continue to take place, in line with Covid-Secure guidelines.

“I know that the steps we are taking will be a heavy blow to many people – to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted, or who now cannot celebrate Eid in the way they would wish, I am really, really sorry about that. But we simply cannot take the risk.”

And there will be a further push to make sure more people are wearing face masks.

Coverings are to be mandatory in indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with people they do not know, such as museums and places of worship, from August 8.

There has been an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.

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According to the ONS, between July 20 and 26 there were around 0.78 new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England.

This is equal to around 4,200 new cases per day.

This is up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week.

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