Boris Johnson has cancelled some of the government’s plans to ease lockdown rules in England.
It means places like bowling alleys and ice skating rinks will no longer be allowed to open from 1 August as previously planned, instead it’ll be at least another two weeks until they’re allowed to open.
The prime minister said it was right to “squeeze the brake pedal” – meaning slow down the changes – when it came to relaxing rules. Boris Johnson said that the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics – which tracks data and public information for the government – had shown cases of the virus in England were “likely to be rising for the first time since May”.
Mr Johnson declared that getting children back to school at the start of next term “should be a national priority”.
The latest change in lockdown rules come after restrictions were increased again in parts of northern England.
Schools reopening as planned in England
Answering whether schools could reopen as planned after the summer holidays, the government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the “idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control” is wrong, but it is clear that “schools are an absolute priority” for society.
Crowds at events
Indoor performances will not resume and trials of larger gatherings within sports venues and conference centres have now been postponed. You are still allowed to get married with up to 30 guests attending in a socially distanced way, however the party afterwards – the wedding reception – will have to be put on hold for at least two weeks.
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.
New rules on where to wear face masks in England
From 8 August there are new places where you will need to wear a face mask in England.
The prime minister says the rules on face coverings will be extended “to other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you 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,” he said
Not a second wave
Prof Chris Whitty said that despite a pause on the lifting of some restrictions, the rise in infection rates in several parts of the world is not a “second wave”. But if people increase the number of people they meet, the virus rate will increase “inevitably”, he said.
The prime minister added that the best way to control the virus is by “washing your hands”. Mr Johnson also unveiled a new slogan aimed at helping people to behave in a way to reduce the risk of infection.
“Hands, face, space, get a test,” he said.
This follows the introduction of “Stay alert, Control the virus, Save lives” earlier in the pandemic.