Johnson postpones easing of coronavirus restrictions in England as cases rise

Lockdown restrictions on close-contact services will remain for at least two weeks

It means face masks and coverings will now be mandatory in indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with people they do not know, such as museums and places of worship, from 8 August.

Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and other "close contact services" will remain closed.

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson said: "The only real utensil we have (in) controlling the spread of this new virus is human behaviour, and the only way we can encourage people to behave in one way or the other is through advice".

Likewise, indoor performances with live audiences, trials of larger gatherings in sports stadiums and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be able to take place until the middle of the month.

- The ONS reported an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England, with Mr Johnson saying the prevalence of the virus in the community is likely to be rising for the first time since May.

The new rules, which came into effect from midnight, 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. "I won't stand by and allow this virus to cause more pain and more heartache in our country". Data released on Friday revealed the growth rate is now between -4% and -1%, compared with a rate of -5% to -1% per day last week.

"We can't afford to ignore this evidence", he added.

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"I've said throughout the pandemic that there would be fresh outbreaks", Johnson said at a news conference, asked if there could be a surge in infections.

The government's top medical adviser warned that it was impossible to fully reopen society without the virus running out of control.

However, the prime minister confirmed that guidance to employers - planned for implementation tomorrow - about getting staff back to work safely remains unchanged.

The data also showed the number may be at or near 1 in the rest of England, though in London and other parts of the country, low case numbers and variable transmission "means these estimates are insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions", the government said.

At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally. Two weeks ago, I said we would hope for the best but plan for the worst. The way to get there and to achieve that optimum outcome is if we all follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, keep our distance - and get a test if we have symptoms, so that NHS Test and Trace can keep the virus under control.

While the premier insisted he does not want to reimpose a "full national lockdown", he said it is vital for the public to obey the rules to avoid more drastic action.

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