Setback to easing
Fans told ‘stay away’ as virus halts pilot events
Goodwood was among those venues hoping to hold a pilot event
Hopes that sports venues and other leisure events would welcome back spectators and customers were dashed today when Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed the easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England for “higher risk” settings.
These include sports venues, casinos, leisure centres and weddings, and follow a sharp spike in coronavirus cases.
It was another blow to thousands of companies large and small that had been planning to reopen.
The FTSE 100 extended its decline, dropping 60 points (1.02%) by mid-afternoon to 5,929 as his comments dashed hopes for a V-shaped recovery for the UK economy.
The Federation of Small Businesses immediately called for a revision of the business support schemes to allow greater flexibility in helping those affected by “stop-start” decisions.
Fans will not be allowed to attend pilot sports events scheduled for this weekend in England after a spike in coronavirus cases, Mr Johnson said.
Spectators were due to watch the first two days of two county cricket matches, while 250 fans were at the World Snooker Championship when it started on Friday.
It was also hoped to permit 4,000 racegoers at the Glorious Goodwood festival on Saturday.
Young people were targeted as being potential spreaders north and south of the border for what Scottish National Clinical director Jason Leitch said was a case of “taking their foot off too quickly”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said about half of the new cases over the past week were people in the 20 to 29 age group.
She said the rise in cases among this age group had been seen in many places around the world since pubs and restaurants reopened and warned people against being complacent.
Following a four-nation discussion this morning Scotland’s Ms Sturgeon threw her full support behind Mr Johnson’s decision.
Nicola Sturgeon: backing Boris
She called an unscheduled media briefing at 2.30pm at which she urged people not to make non-essential trips to the north of England, the location of new outbreaks. She said the virus “is under control in Scotland, but the need for caution is more obvious.”
Mr Johnson said that plans to allow limited crowds at events will now be pushed back until at least 15 August.
Socially-distanced theatres and music venues will also remain closed.
“As we see 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,” he said.