Coronavirus: PM postpones lockdown easing in England

The further easing of coronavirus restrictions – due to come in this weekend – has been postponed for at least two weeks, amid concerns over an increase in coronavirus cases.

Speaking in Downing Street, Boris Johnson said “we must squeeze the brake pedal” to keep the virus under control.

Wedding receptions of up to 30 people were meant to be allowed as part of the changes but cannot yet happen.

Face coverings will be mandatory in more indoor settings, such as cinemas.

The prime minister said progress against coronavirus continues, with the daily and weekly number of deaths falling, but warned that some European countries are “struggling” to control it. The UK must be ready to “react”, he said.

Highlighting the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, he added: “The prevalence of the virus in the community, in England, is likely to be rising for the first time since May.”

According to the ONS, 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.

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

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