WORLD UK postpones lockdown easing amid growing concerns over coronavirus prevalence

WORLD

UK postpones lockdown easing amid growing concerns over coronavirus prevalence

Xinhua

18:07, August 01, 2020

A woman does shopping in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, Britain, on July 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

British government announced on Friday that the easing of some restrictive measures will not take place as scheduled, as coronavirus infection numbers are creeping up.

"At every point I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional -- that it relies on continued progress against the virus, and that we would not hesitate to put on the brakes if required," Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press briefing.

"With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control," he said.

Under the new arrangement, casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed, and indoor performances will not resume in England, until August 15 at the earliest.

The same goes for pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centers, according to the government.

"We will of course study the data carefully and move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we possibly can," said Johnson.

The latest weekly survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that the prevalence of the virus in the community in England is likely to be rising for the first time since May. Around 1 in 1,500 now have the virus, compared to 1 in 1,800 on July 15 and 1 in 2,000 on July 2.

The ONS also estimates there are now 4,900 new infections every day, up from around 3,000 per day on July 14 and 2,000 per day at the end of June.

Johnson said the government will extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with others they do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

"We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from August 8," he said.

At this stage, the government is not changing the rules on social contact nationally.

However, Johnson warned: "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."

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