The planned easing of lockdown restrictions in England has been postponed for at least a fortnight – with face masks to become mandatory by law in most public indoor settings on 8 August.
Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing that the decision to “squeeze that brake pedal” on changes had been taken due to coronavirus infection numbers “creeping up” and “in order to keep the virus under control”.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, meanwhile, warned the country had “probably reached near the limits, or the limits, of what we can do in terms of opening up society” without causing a further spike in COVID-19 cases.
It means plans due to come in to force on Saturday to reopen casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks will not now happen until 15 August at the earliest.
In addition, indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, as had been planned.
The prime minister also announced that rules around face coverings would be extended to make them mandatory in most public indoor settings, “such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship”.
He said this measure would become enforceable in law from 8 August.