Coronavirus: PM ‘may postpone’ lockdown easing in England

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The PM has decided that the next easing of coronavirus restrictions – due to come in this weekend – will be postponed, the BBC has been told.

Boris Johnson briefed opposition leaders ahead of a news conference scheduled for 12:00 BST, sources said.

Further venues such as casinos and bowling alleys were meant to be reopening as part of the changes.

The rethink follows new restrictions for people in parts of northern England, after a spike in virus cases.

Live indoor theatre and concerts were also due to resume with socially distanced audiences from the start of August.

On the same date the government was due to update its advice on going to work, asking employers to make decisions about how and where their staff can work safely.

And the 2.2 million people who have been self-isolating in England during the pandemic had been told they would no longer need to shield from 1 August.

Details of exactly what was changed are expected in the prime minister’s midday press conference.

The briefing comes after the government announced new restrictions in parts of England late on Thursday night, banning separate households from meeting each other inside their homes or private gardens.

The rules impact people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire, and in Leicester.

Scotland’s First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has strongly advising anyone planning to travel to areas in northern England facing new lockdown restrictions, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from those areas, to cancel their trip.

Lockdown map

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics has said there is “now evidence to suggest a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab in recent weeks”.

This is based on the organisation’s infection survey – taking swabs from people selected at random in homes in England.

Last week, the ONS estimated that there were 2,800 new infections each day and that one in 2,000 people – 28,000 in total – were infected in homes in England. – bbc.com

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