This story was updated at 17.07, 31 July 2020
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that proposed changes to the easing of lockdown restrictions, due to come into force on 1 August, are to be postponed to 15 August “at the earliest”.
However, despite initial confusion, business events for up to 30 people are allowed to take place. An update from the Tourism Alliance read: “The ability of venues permitted to open from the 17 July and hold meetings of up to 30 persons is not affected by the newly announced measures, nor is the wearing of face masks at these meetings.”
It continued: “The pilots due to be held to test the guidelines in exhibition and conference centres has been postponed. This does not affect the current intended date for reopening of conference and exhibition venues from the 1st October. The Partnership will press for the pilots to be carried out as soon as is practical. The position of being able to show round visitors for future bookings to conference and exhibition centres is being checked.”
Wedding receptions, however, may not take place, and live performances have also been postponed.
The announcement comes the day after some lockdown restrictions were re-introduced in the North West of England.
Addressing the nation from Downing Street, the prime minister promised to keep looking at the national situation and noted that the country should now “squeeze the brake pedal” to keep the Covid-19 outbreak under control.
“On 1 August we had hoped to reopen some of the ‘higher risk’ settings that had remained closed. Unfortunately, we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight,” the prime minister said.
He added: “That means that until 15 August, at the earliest, venues, bowling alleys, casinos, skating rinks and other close-contact settings must remain closed. Indoor performances may not resume, pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted.”
The prime minister warned against complacency and said that was why new restrictions were imposed on people meeting in parts of northern England on the evening of 30 July. Businesses and workplaces there should continue “as normal”, he added.
The growth rate and R value of Covid-19 transmission in the UK has changed slightly in the last week, new figures published by the Government show. 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.
The report noted the R value for the UK is between 0.8 to 0.9, a change from 0.7 to 0.9. A growth rate between -1% to -4% means the number of new infections is reducing by between 1% to 4% daily.