UK PM delays scheduled coronavirus lockdown easing in England

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

LONDON — British Prime Minister on Friday reversed a decision to further relax lockdown restrictions in England from Saturday for at least two weeks.

The easing of lockdown rules on Aug. 1 had included allowing small wedding receptions and the reopening of bowling alleys and casinos.

Speaking at a press conference, the British premier said he was halting the reopening of leisure businesses.

It was time to “squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep that virus under control”, PM Johnson said.

Johnson’s move follows the bleak assessment made by the chief medical officer with regard to the reopening of the businesses in the country.

Amid a surge of new infections rising, the country has reached the limits of reopening, according to Prof Chris Whitty, the top medical officer in England.

Johnson said rules on face coverings would be extended from Aug. 8, meaning people would be obliged to wear them in indoor venues such as museums, galleries and cinemas, and that there would be greater police enforcement of mask-wearing.

Earlier, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced new lockdown restrictions late on Thursday, said test and trace data has shown "most of the transmission is happening between households" in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Households have now been banned from meeting indoors to curb the spread of the virus, but Hancock said a household in an affected area could travel to another household outside of the affected areas as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. — Agencies