Boris Johnson postpones further easing of lockdown measures

Cheryl Sanders
July 31, 2020

This relaxation of rules will be postponed by at least two weeks.

Friday morning, he added, "We take this step with a heavy heart, but it is so important that people follow the social distancing rules so that we can control the virus & save lives".

"We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship", Mr Johnson said. "We can not be complacent".

"This is how we will avoid a return to full national lockdown. I won't stand by and allow this virus to cause more pain and more heartache in our country".

Indoor performances, weddings of 30, and pilots of sports events are all postponed until 15 August.

New data published by the government on Friday show the so-called R number, representing how many people each new Covid-19 patient infects, may be above the critical threshold of 1 in the northwest and southwest of England.

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said it wasn't sensible to think of the uptick in infections as a second wave.

He said later: "Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their best to control the virus".

The government's scientific advisory group said it did "not have confidence" that the rate of transmission in England was below 1, meaning it was no longer certain that each infected person was infecting fewer than one other person, raising the specter of a resurgence in cases.

The government also announced lifting of restrictions in other local areas, such as in Oadby and Wigston, and on August 3, restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers in Leicester can reopen.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also announced in a tweet on Thursday that the government planned to increase lockdown measures in parts of northern England, including Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale. It followed the re-imposition of quarantine on people coming from Spain last weekend that caught hundreds of thousands of tourists by surprise.

And the blanket nature of Thursday's fresh restrictions on a large swathe of northern England highlights the risk that the government's test and trace system - created to reach people who have been in close contact with newly-infected patients - may not yet be effective enough to target small localised outbreaks.

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