Boris Johnson postpones further easing of lockdown measures

The Prime Minister has postponed the further easing of lockdown measures for at least two weeks in response to the rising prevalence of coronavirus which he said is "likely to be rising for the first time since May".

This means that close contact services, casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks will not be allowed to reopen on August 1 as was previously planned. He also announced that indoor performance will not resume and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted.

"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.

Expressing his sympathy for those who will be impacted by his decision to postpone, Mr Johnson stated that "we can’t afford to ignore this evidence."

"I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people, to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted or who cannot now celebrate Eid in the way that they would wish and I’m really, really sorry about that but we cannot simply take the risk," he said.

Chief Medical officer Chris Whitty

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty also warned that the UK has potentially reached a limit for how much of society can be opened up.

“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," he said.

“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.”

Mr Jonhson also announced that face coverings will become enforceable by law in more places including museums, cinemas and places of worship from August 8.

"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.

“At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally. I don’t want to tell people to spend less time with their friends. But unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further," he added.