THE Prime Minister has confirmed further easing of lockdown restrictions in England will be postponed for at least two weeks.

The restrictions, which included allowing small wedding receptions and reopening of bowling alleys and casinos, will not be lifted as originally planned tomorrow.

Boris Johnson made the announcement this afternoon, just hours after new lockdown rules came in across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

At a press conference on Friday, the PM said: "I've also consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.

"I'm afraid that in parts of Asia and in Latin America, the virus is gathering pace and some of our European friends are also struggling to keep it under control.

"As we see these rises around the world, we can't fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble."

Face coverings are now to become 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 August 8.

Speaking about the cancellation of planned lockdown easing tomorrow, the PM said: "With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should squeeze that brake pedal - in order to keep the virus under control.

"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.

"That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close-contact services must remain closed.

"Indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted."

Full list of what the new rules that were due to come in

These were the planned changes to current lockdown rules across England:

- Employers will have more discretion, in consultation with their employees, on how to ensure people can work safely – working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

- The clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer need to follow advice on shielding, though should still take particular care to follow the social distancing guidelines when meeting people.

- Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos can open.

- Conference and exhibition centres will be able to reopen in order to enable pilots for business events to take place – they should not yet be open fully to host events more widely.

- Indoor performances to a live audience can begin to take place, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines and subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible.

- Further pilots of larger events can take place in venues, including in sports stadia and business conferences.

- Small wedding receptions - sit-down meals for no more than 30 people – can take place, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance.

- All remaining close contact services – such as facial treatment and make up application – can restart, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

What is the R number in the UK?

The growth rate and R value of coronavirus 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 minus 4 per cent to minus 1 per cent, compared with a rate of minus 5 per cent to minus 1 per cent per day, last week.

The R value for the UK is between 0.8 to 0.9, a slight change from 0.7 to 0.9.

The figures are published by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

A growth rate between minus 1 per cent to minus 4 per cent means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1 per cent to 4 per cent every day, the report said.

It added: "However, we are starting to see early indications that these values may be increasing.

"This is not yet reflected in these estimates because the data used to calculate R and growth rate reflect the situation from a few weeks ago."