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‘Can't afford to ignore the evidence’: PM Johnson postpones next stage of easing lockdown rules as UK infection rate grows

‘Can't afford to ignore the evidence’: PM Johnson postpones next stage of easing lockdown rules as UK infection rate grows
An alarming increase in coronavirus cases has forced UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to abruptly halt the next phase of lifting the lockdown restrictions, planned on Saturday.

“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,” Johnson said.

The PM told reporters that until August 15 venues like casinos, bowling alleys, and skating rinks, and other “close-contact services” will remain closed. Plans to allow more indoor gatherings, like weddings with up to 30 guests, were also put on hold.

Johnson explained that the reopening was postponed due to the rising rate of infection. 

Today, the weekly survey by the Office for National Statistics reports that the prevalence of the virus in the community in England is likely to be rising for the first time since May… The ONS also estimate that there are now 4,900 new infections every day up from around 3,000 per day on the 14th of July and 2,000 per day at the end of June. We just can't afford to ignore this evidence.

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The government has been gradually lifting restrictions in recent weeks. Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hair salons were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

However, officials became wary of the Covid-19 hotspots across the country and of the situation in some European countries. On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned about "a second wave of coronavirus that's starting to roll across Europe." He said the government must do everything it can to protect British citizens.

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