Boris Johnson speech in FULL – PM gives coronavirus update as lockdown easing SCRAPPED

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Lockdown first came into effect in March and the UK has been slowly lifting the rules to allow people back to work, schools and high streets. But last night, it was announced lockdown restrictions were being reimposed in parts of Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Lancashire, stopping people from meeting other households in their homes, gardens or in restaurants. And today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a further easing of the rules planned to take place on August 1 would be cancelled due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

At a press conference on Friday, he said: “With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal… in order to keep the virus under control.

“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.

“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.”

He added: “I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people, to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted or who cannot now celebrate Eid in the way that they would wish.

“And I’m really, really sorry about that but we cannot simply take the risk.

“Two weeks ago I also said that from tomorrow the Government would give employers more discretion over how employees can work safely, whether by continuing to work from home, or attending a Covid-secure workplace.

“And we know that employers have gone to huge lengths to make workplaces safe so that guidance remains unchanged.

“I also said that we would pause shielding nationally from August 1, based on clinical advice and that national pause will proceed as planned, and our medical experts will be explaining more about that decision and about the shielded group later today.”

The Prime Minister also said that despite progress being made in combating Covid-19, the UK cannot think it is exempt from a rise in cases.

Mr Johnson said: “I’ve also 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.

“We cannot be complacent and I won’t stand by and allow this virus to threaten to cause more pain and more heartache in our country.

“So that’s why last night the Health Secretary (Matt Hancock) announced new restrictions on household contact in the north west, specifically Greater Manchester and in parts of East Lancashire and in West Yorkshire.

“These are targeted measures on social contact between households which the data tells us is driving the current increase in cases.”

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The announcement comes after an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between July 20 and 26 there were around 0.78 new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England.

This is equal to around 4,200 new cases per day – up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week.

The R value for the UK has also seen a slight rise, increasing from 0.7 to 0.9 to between 0.8 to 0.9, according to figures published by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

The report said: “We are starting to see early indications that these values may be increasing.

“This is not yet reflected in these estimates because the data used to calculate R and growth rate reflect the situation from a few weeks ago.”

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