Coronavirus: UK ‘squeezes brakes’ on easing lockdown orders

Plans for limited spectators at sporting events is among the delayed measures

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a digital Covid-19 press conference in London. EPA/ANDREW PARSONS 
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding a digital Covid-19 press conference in London. EPA/ANDREW PARSONS 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is postponing some planned measures to ease the UK's lockdown because coronavirus cases are on the rise for the first time since May.

The government is scrapping plans to allow venues, such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, to reopen in England, and a plan to allow a limited number of fans into weekend sports events is on hold.

Mr Johnson announced on Friday a two-week delay for measures that were scheduled to be allowed from August 1.

With virus "numbers creeping up", he said the government had decided to "squeeze that brake pedal" on reopening the economy.

Indoor performances and an easing of rules to allow wedding parties of up to 30 people are also being pushed back by two weeks.

Beauty salons will also not be allowed to start offering treatments that involve working on a customer's face.

Mr Johnson said a rule requiring face coverings worn in shops and on public transport will be extended to museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

The guidance for employers is also changing to give firms "more discretion over how employees can work safely, whether by continuing to work from home, or attending a Covid-secure workplace", Mr Johnson said.

He added he would come down hard on employers who did not make workplaces Covid-secure.

"If employers don't keep their workplaces Covid-secure then that's a matter that can be enforced in law, " Mr Johnson said.

"We will come down hard on people who are not doing the right thing."

Late on Thursday, the government announced stricter lockdown measures for Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, which caused confusion among Muslims planning for Eid Al Adha.

Hammad Khan, the president of Manchester Central Mosque, said there had been chaos among worshippers who were struggling to understand the impact of the new rules.

He said that before the new measures were tweeted out late on Thursday, his team had been working for two weeks to arrange Eid prayers with the necessary social distancing.

There was also anger after Craig Whittaker, a local area MP with Mr Johnson's Conservative Party, told a radio talk-show that a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the virus by Muslim and ethnic members in his constituency were to blame.

Updated: August 1, 2020 02:23 AM


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