What has changed about the COVID lockdown easing plans this weekend?
3 years ago
The Government has postponed a planned easing of England’s lockdown on Saturday amid a rise in the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.
But what measures will be lifted and which are postponed?
What measures were due to be lifted?
On July 17, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of restrictions which were to be lifted on August 1.
The Government was to update its guidance telling people to work form home and give employers “more discretion” to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.
Mr Johnson also said that bowling alleys and casinos would be able to reopen, weddings of up to 30 people would be allowed and beauticians could resume all close-contact services such as facials and make-up application.
Indoor performances to a live audiences were to be allowed, as well as reopening conference centres.
What is being postponed?
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson said casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close- contact services must remain closed – while indoor performances will not resume.
Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted.
How long will the updates be postponed for?
Mr Johnson said that the delay in easing lockdown measures will run until August 15 at the earliest.
He said that the Government will continue to study the data carefully and “move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we possibly can”.
Why has the planned easing been postponed?
The Prime Minister said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had reported that the prevalence of the virus in the community in England was likely to be rising for the first time since May.
He said that the ONS estimates there are now 4,900 new infections every day, up from around 3,000 per day on July 14 and 2,000 a day at the end of June.
Mr Johnson said he could not afford to ignore this evidence, and added that “our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control”.
Are some measures still being eased on Saturday?
Mr Johnson said that the move to allow more discretion for employers with regard to staff returning to work will go ahead.
Shielding advice for people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable during the peak of the pandemic in England is also due to be paused as planned.
The advice on shielding in Scotland will also be paused on Saturday.
Are any other rules changing?
The PM said that the rules on social contact nationally were not being changed.
His comments follow the introduction of local lockdown measures in parts of the North West of England and areas of West Yorkshire, banning people from different households meeting indoors or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.
But in a strengthening of precautions Mr Johnson announced that face coverings will become mandatory in indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship from August 8.