UK relaxes more Covid-19 curbs, mask violators face £3,200 fine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday announced more easing of restrictions from Saturday, allowing marriage receptions for up to 30 people and reopening casinos, skating rinks and beauty salons, but raised fines for those not wearing masks up to £3,200.

The enforcement measures include doubling the fine to a maximum of £3,200 for those who repeatedly flout face covering rules, and new fines introduced for people hosting raves or other unlawful gatherings of more than 30 people.

The relaxations are the same that were to come into effect two weeks ago, but were paused due to a rise in infections. Officials said: “The situation now appears to have levelled off”. As of Thursday evening, the UK had recorded 41,347 deaths and 313,798 cases.

The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from August 15 with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from October 1.

Johnson said: “Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent. That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules”.

“At every stage I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional and that it relies on continued progress against the virus. Today, we are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed”.

“However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus”.

Business secretary Alok Sharma announced that new in-principle agreements had been reached to secure 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine and 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, adding to the portfolio of promising vaccine candidates currently under trial.

With Friday’s announcement, the UK has now secured access to six different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, including the University of Oxford’s vaccine being developed with AstraZeneca, as well as agreements with the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance, Valneva and GSK/Sanofi Pasteur.

Sharma said: “Today’s agreements will not only benefit people in the UK but will ensure fair and equitable access of a vaccine around the world, potentially protecting hundreds of millions of lives”.

“While we are doing everything we can to ensure the British people get access to a successful vaccine as soon as possible, nobody is safe until we are all safe so global cooperation is absolutely critical if we are to defeat this virus once and for all”, he added.

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