Coronavirus: Masks must be worn in cinemas and wedding receptions on hold as lockdown easing postponed
The Prime Minister has postponed the further easing of lockdown measures across England amid concerns over a rise in coronavirus cases.
Restrictions that were due to be lifted on Saturday (August 1), including allowing small wedding receptions and reopening bowling alleys and casinos, have been postponed for at least two weeks.
Face coverings are to be mandatory in indoor settings such as cinemas, museums and places of worship from August 8, Boris Johnson said.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Friday: “As we see these rises around the world, we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.”
With numbers rising “our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal… in order to keep the virus under control”, he added.
And England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, warned: “We have probably reached near the limit or the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society.”
It follows the announcement on Thursday evening of local lockdown measures in some parts of the country where there has been a spike in virus cases. People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are no longer allowed to meet each other inside their homes or in gardens.
Members of two different households in these areas are also banned from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues. These businesses remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 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 – equal to around 4,200 new cases per day, and up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week.
Prof Whitty said: “I think what we’re seeing from the data from ONS and other data is that we have probably reached near the limit or the limits of what we can do in terms of opening up society.
“So what that means potentially is that if we wish to do more things in the future, we may have to do less of some other things.
“And these will be difficult trade-offs, some of which will be decisions for government and some of which are for all of us as citizens to do.
“But we have to be realistic about this. The idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong.”
The Prime Minister urged people to “follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, keep our distance - and get a test if we have symptoms”.
However, the 2.2 million people still shielding will be released from self-isolation on Saturday as planned, meaning they can return to work if their workplace is Covid-secure and if they cannot work from home.
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What has been delayed?
Changes planned for August 1 have been postponed:
- Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed
- Indoor performances will not resume
- Pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place
- Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not take place
- Beauty treatments involving the face, such as eyelash, eyebrow and threading treatments are not allowed
Meanwhile, the requirement to wear a face covering will be extended from August 8 to more indoor settings, such as museums, cinemas, places of worship and libraries.
More by this authorPaul Brackley
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