Addressing the nation on the latest coronavirus measures from Downing Street, Boris Johnson told Britons the country is not ready to further ease lockdown measures from tomorrow. The Prime Minister was expected to announce new measures from Saturday but the Government earlier revealed the current R-rate of infections in the UK is between 0.8 and 0.9 overall, with scientific advisers unsure it has remained below one in England.
The Prime Minister said “in many ways progress continues” for the fight against the deadly virus, but warned “we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt” from a second wave.
“We can’t afford to ignore the evidence,” he stressed, adding “I won’t stand by allowing this virus to cause more pain”.
As he reminded the nation his promises were “conditional” on progress made by nation, he said the reopening of bowling alleys and casinos will be postponed for at least two weeks.
Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will also not be permitted.
“I’m really sorry,” he said.
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The Prime Minister began saying: “I’ve consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.
“I’m afraid that in parts of Asia and in Latin America, the virus is gathering pace and some of our European friends are also struggling to keep it under control.
“As we see these rises around the world, we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt.
“We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.”
He added: “On Saturday August 1, you’ll remember we had hoped to reopen a number of the higher-risk settings that had remained closed and today I’m saying we’re postponing those changes for at least a fortnight.
“That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close-contact services must remain closed.
It comes as new lockdown restrictions were introduced overnight for some areas in the north of the country.
People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.
The new rules also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, but these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.
The Government said it will give police forces and councils powers to enforce the new rules – adding that some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.
The Scottish Government is now strongly advising against non-essential travel between Scotland and parts of the north of England subject to the tighter lockdown restrictions.
Nicola Sturgeon said people living in Scotland who are visiting the parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire where people have been banned from meeting each other indoors do not have to cut short their visit but must adhere to the rules and “be extra vigilant when you come home, especially for symptoms”.
She said the advice against travel to the affected areas was taken following a call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and is to “ensure we don’t add to their challenge and also minimise risks of onward transmission here”.