On Saturday, Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) member Prof Graham Medley told the BBC that pubs in England may need to close again, in a ‘trade-off’ that would allow schools to reopen in September as originally planned.
Medley’s claims followed the latest government briefing (Friday, 31 July), where UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced that it was necessary to ‘squeeze the brake pedal’ and that certain measures that were due to come in over the weekend, such as the reopening of casinos and the return of indoor performances, would be postponed for at least two weeks.
During the briefing, England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty justified the government’s decisions by saying that the country had ‘probably reached near the limits or the limits [of what can be allowed to reopen society], so what that means potentially is that if we wish to do more things in the future, we may have to do less of some other things, and these will be difficult trade-offs, some of which will be decisions of government, and some of which are for all of us to do’.
The announcement came as a consequence of England's rising Covid-19 infection rates. According to official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), last week saw about 4,200 new cases of Covid-19 a day, a 50% rise compared to the previous seven-day period. More details on the latest coronavirus figures in England can be found on the ONS website.