Johnson postpones easing of coronavirus restrictions in England as cases rise

Elias Hubbard
August 1, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that a relaxation of lockdown rules in England set for August 1 will be postponed by at least two weeks as the rate of coronavirus' transmission across the country rises.

- The ONS reported an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England, with Mr Johnson saying the prevalence of the virus in the community is likely to be rising for the first time since May. But this has now been postponed for at least two weeks due to a rise in cases of coronavirus.

"On Saturday 1 August we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher-risk settings that had remained closed.

Today I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight", Johnson said at a news conference, according to Reuters.

He also extended rules making face coverings compulsory in more indoor settings.

"With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal... in order to keep the virus under control", Boris Johnson said during the Downing Street briefing.

On Thursday, the government re-imposed restrictions on social life in a swath of northern England because of a surge in cases, barring households from visiting one another. Households there have now been banned from meeting indoors to curb the spread of the virus.

But with the rules impacting Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire, a north Wales MP has raised concerns that stricter measures and the spike in cases could see more residents of these areas head for holiday homes in north Wales, placing greater pressure on already stretched health and public services.

Mark Francois, the chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, said: "The Government's got to stop sending contradictory signals".

Opposition politicians supported the latest move but criticized the government for announcing the restrictions in a tweet from Hancock late Thursday, just two hours before they came into force at midnight.

However, despite initial confusion, business events for up to 30 people are allowed to take place. Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hair salons were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

As the world grapples with a possible second wave, Johnson said the virus was gathering pace in Asia and Latin America while continental Europe was struggling to keep it under control.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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