Boris Johnson has insisted the “world’s best” UK holidays can still go ahead despite unveiling a new lockdown.
The Prime Minister today urged Brits to still enjoy a summer holiday just minutes after expressing concerns over the national infection rate.
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The Government revealed at 9.16pm last night that households in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire were banned from meeting each other indoors from midnight last night.
The sudden new rules – which mean that people can still go to work and even visit shops and cafes but cannot go inside other homes – have left the public reeling.
Speaking from Downing Street this afternoon, the PM was asked by The Sun’s Harry Cole if he had “just cancelled summer”.
The PM answered: “I don’t think so, I would still encourage people to take wonderful staycations here in the UK.
“There all sorts of fantastic destinations, the best in the world I would say.
“All my happiest holiday memories are vacations in the UK, bucket and spades or whatever, and I thoroughly recommend it. I’m sure people will have a great time over summer.”
It comes as the PM hit the brakes on easing the coronavirus lockdown.
Boris today vowed he wouldn’t “stand by and allow the virus to cause more pain and heartache in this country”.
And in a dramatic clamp-down to stop the spread of the bug, he announced that most of the measures which were to be lifted tomorrow would now be put on ice for two weeks.
Boris said that new ONS figures showed 4,900 new cases every day – signalling the “first rise since the end of May”.
He explained this was an increase on 3,000 new cases everyday on July 14 and 2,000 new cases at the end of June.
One in 1,500 Brits now have the virus, compared to 1 in 1,800 on July 15.
Speaking from Downing Street today, the PM said Brits needed to remain vigilant, saying: “With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.
“We must keep our focus and we can’t be complacent.”
Boris Johnson today announced:
- The UK recorded its first rise in coronavirus cases since the end of May
- Leisure centres like skating rinks and bowling alleys that had expected to reopen tomorrow will now have to wait another two weeks at least
- Brits will have to wear a face mask in cinemas
- Sports fans will not be allowed to attend live events
- Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted
- The national pause on shielding for vulnerable Brits WILL go ahead from tomorrow
As part of the dramatic halt, the reopening of leisure centres including skating rinks, casinos and bowling alleys has now been pushed back along with small wedding receptions.
Socially-distanced theatres and music venues had also been expected to open but this was also put on hold until at least August 15 while Brits will now have to wear a face mask in cinemas.
And Boris 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.”
Full list of businesses that were due to reopen from August 1
BACK in July, the Prime Minister announced that more businesses would be allowed to reopen from August 1, as long as the infection rate remained low.
But this is now unlikely due to a spike in infections across the UK.
Businesses that were due to reopen from August 1:
- Bowling alleys
- Leisure centres
- Ice-skating rinks
- Facial treatments at beauty salons
- Theatres, music halls and other venues can open for socially distanced audiences
Businesses than can reopen from October:
- Sports stadiums welcome back fans
- Conferences can go ahead
- Strip clubs
Businesses that must stay closed:
- Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques
- Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars
- Indoor play areas, including soft-play areas
Further guidance is expected to be published in the coming days.
The move comes after the Office for National Statistics today revealed the number of coronavirus cases had increased with 35,700 people currently infected with the bug.
The new stats suggest around 4,200 new cases were recorded per day through July 20 to July 26.
Boris said that the bombshell new coronavirus rules announced last night as “targeted measures” to control the bug.
Brits had been left confused after 4.5million people were issued with fresh lockdown demands with just three hours’ notice.
One local wrote last night pointed out the confusing nature of the guidelines, saying it was “utter shambles” – adding that despite home visits being banned, “you’re still allowed to work, public transport, the pub, the leisure centres, the hairdressers, the parks.”
Another added: “So I can’t visit family in their house or garden but I can go to a pub, for a meal or shopping or use public transport with complete strangers?”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock himself today appeared muddled by the new guidelines, suggesting on BBC Breakfast that households in the lockdown area could visit those outside of the impacted regions – contradicting the official advice.
According to the guidelines published this morning, it is illegal for people who are in the affected region to visit other homes regardless of whether it is in or out of the restricted area.
About 4.5million people will be affected by the new lockdown rules – which are expected to be subject to a weekly review.
What the new rules mean:
- You can go to the pub or a restaurant, but only with your household/bubble
- You can only be with members of your household or bubble in your home or garden
- You can celebrate Eid and go to a place of worship but only if you follow social distancing – celebrations with members outside your household cannot take place in your home or garden
- You can go on holiday but only with members of your household or bubble
The affected areas include all of the 2.8million residents of Greater Manchester, as well as the Lancashire towns of Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale.
West Yorkshire, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees were also hit.
Leicester was also included in the households ban, but pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will reopen on Monday. However, leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed.
And others flagged concerns that the lockdown had been brought in just as Eid celebrations began today.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary general, Harun Khan, criticised the way the announcement was made, saying: “With the first day of Eid being today, for Muslims in the affected areas, it is like being told they cannot visit family and friends for Christmas on Christmas Eve itself.
“Whilst the safety of communities is of paramount importance, as has remained the case from the very outset of this crisis, so is effective communication delivered in a timely fashion.
“Failure to communicate makes it difficult for communities across the country to continue working together to minimise the spread of the virus, whilst eroding trust in the ability of authorities to steer our course as we tackle the Covid-19 crisis.”
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi today slammed the “lack of clarity” over the message on Good Morning Britain, saying she had received calls up to 1am overnight by confused members of the community.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning was left trying to defend the move, saying the move had been “absolutely necessary”.
Speaking to Sky News, he said the new rules were “crystal clear”, saying the test and trace data had shown “most of the transmission is happening between households.
He added: “Everyone can see that the problem with this virus is it thrives on the social contact that makes life worth living.”
The Health Secretary had last night said he was introducing the new measures with a “heavy heart” – tweeting the announcement at 9.16pm with details published two hours later before the full guidelines were released this morning.
When asked about the Islamic celebration of Eid, he said his “heart goes out” to the community, adding: “Unfortunately this change does mean that people won’t be able to get together in their houses, in their gardens.
“But we are allowing mosques and other religious places to stay open because they’ve done so much work to allow for Covid-secure celebration and worship.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer said he would not argue with local action to reduce the transmission of the virus but said: “Announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.”
He added: “For all the bluster, government has failed to deliver a functioning track and trace system that would spot local flare ups like these.”
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham defended the sudden introduction of the new guidelines, saying the virus could move “quickly”.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, he said: “The truth of the matter is the pub is a more regulated environment, as is public transport where people are supposed to wear face masks.
“The home is a less regulated.”
Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “A lot of people are hoping that they can grab a bit of time to go for a summer holiday, and we’re not sure here in Leicester whether that’s going to be permitted or not.”