Which Covid lockdown easing plans have been postponed?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a planned easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown measures would be postponed for at least two weeks amid a rise in the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.
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A number of measures were due to be lifted today – Saturday, August 1. Instead, it will be at least a fortnight until they are reviewed.

The announcement on Friday, July 31 came just hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock imposed certain restrictions on parts of northern England – Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire – following a spike in virus cases.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Friday, July 31. Picture: PA.Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Friday, July 31. Picture: PA.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Friday, July 31. Picture: PA.

*What measures were due to be lifted?

In an update on Friday, July 17, outlining the changes expected from August 1, Mr Johnson said 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.

The PM 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?

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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.

The Government will continue to study the data carefully and “move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we possibly can”, he added.

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*Why has the planned easing been postponed?

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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 Wednesday, July 14.

*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.

*What else is changing?

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The PM said that the rules on social contact nationally were not being changed.

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.

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