Just a fortnight ago, Boris Johnson unveiled a plan that he hoped would put the country back on a path to normality by Christmas. But at the same Downing Street podium on Friday, he said that the government was postponing plans to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions further on Saturday.
The prime minister said the delay in easing measures across England for at least a fortnight was to combat new cases of the virus. He also announced face coverings would be made mandatory in a host of new indoor settings. So, what does it all mean?
The reopening of leisure businesses including casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks due to take place on 1 August has now been postponed until 15 August at the earliest. Close-contact services, such as certain beauty treatments, will also not yet be allowed and indoor performances will not resume. Meanwhile, pilots of larger crowds in sporting venues and conference centres will not take place and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, although ceremonies can still go ahead as before.
Rules on face coverings were being extended, meaning from 8 August people would be required to wear them in indoor venues such as museums, galleries, cinemas, and places of worship, Johnson said.
Yes. Johnson said government guidance giving employers more discretion over how staff could return to work safely, including potentially going back to offices, remained effective from Saturday.
Yes. The prime minister confirmed that the plan to pause shielding nationally from Saturday will still go ahead.
In explaining the move, Johnson said Covid-19 was “gathering pace” in parts of Asia and Latin America, and that some European countries were “struggling to keep the virus under control”. He said Covid-19 rates were on the up in England, with new Office for National Statistics weekly survey figures showing that the prevalence of the virus in the community was probably rising for the first time since May. About one in 1,500 people now had coronavirus, compared with one in 1,800 on 15 July and only one in 2,000 on 2 July, he said. Meanwhile, the ONS estimates that there are now 4,900 new infections a day, up from about 3,000 on 14 July and 2,000 at the end of June. “We just can’t afford to ignore this evidence,” Johnson said.
Fewer than half of the public fully understand England’s lockdown rules, a study released before Johnson’s latest announcement found. In an ongoing survey of more than 70,000 adults, researchers from University College London found that about 45% of respondents said they had a “broad understanding” of the current rules in England, with only 14% saying they understood the rules completely now lockdown had eased.
News – Why has easing of the Covid-19 lockdown in England been delayed?