The further easing of lockdown restrictions in England – set to begin this weekend – has been postponed for a minimum of 14 days, amid concerns over a rise in coronavirus cases.
Casinos and bowling alleys will remain shut, with Boris Johnson saying it had been time to “squeeze the brake pedal”. Wedding receptions of up to 30 people were meant to be allowed as a part of the changes but cannot yet happen.
Face coverings are going to be mandatory in additional indoor settings, like cinemas. People attending places of worship also will be required to wear face coverings, during a change that will be applied from next weekend.
But planned changes to guidance for people that are shielding during the pandemic, and advice for employers, will still plow ahead.
Mr. Johnson made the comments during a special Downing Street briefing, where he was joined by England’s chief medic, Prof Chris Whitty.
Prof Whitty warned that it’d not be possible to ease the lockdown any longer, explaining that the “idea that we will open up everything and keep the virus under control” is wrong.
Asked whether it had been safe for England’s schools to open fully to all or any pupils within the autumn, he said it had been a “difficult balancing act”.
The prime minister said progress against coronavirus continues, with the daily and a weekly number of deaths falling, but warned that some European countries are “struggling” to regulate it.
Highlighting the newest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Mr. Johnson added: “The prevalence of the virus within the community, in England, is probably going to be rising for the primary time since May.”
He said that the reopening of society had always been “conditional” on “continued progress against the virus”, but with “numbers creeping up” it had been time to “squeeze that pedal so as to stay the virus under control”.
He urged people to “follow the principles, wash our hands, cover our faces, keep our distance – and obtain a test if we’ve symptoms”, summing the recommendation up with a replacement slogan for all.