LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson told England on Friday that it must ‘‘squeeze the brake pedal’’ and postpone easing some coronavirus restrictions for at least two weeks, amid a worrying uptick in infections.
The British are moving two steps forward, one step back, essentially, like other countries in Europe now. All are trying to revive their economies and give citizens back their freedoms, while defending themselves against a full-blown resurgence of the virus.
In response to outbreaks, the British government on Thursday night announced new restrictions affecting 4 million people in north England. A ban on gatherings of any size at private homes applies to greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire. That means people can’t visit friends’ houses — or have a one-on-one chat in a friend’s backyard. They can go to pubs and restaurants, but only with members of their own households.
The slowdown announced Friday applies across all of England. The main thrust is that casinos and bowling alleys, shuttered since late March, will have to wait longer before customers are allowed back in. Wedding receptions of up to 30 people and indoor performances will remain banned, despite earlier plans for them to restart on Aug. 1.
Face masks will also now be mandatory in more indoor settings, such as movie theaters, museums, and places of worship beginning Aug. 8. Masks are already mandatory in shops and on public transportation.
Vietnam records its first COVID-19 death
HANOI — Vietnam on Friday reported its first-ever death of a person with coronavirus as it struggles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days with no local cases.
The Health Ministry said a 70-year-old man died after contracting the disease while being treated for a kidney illness at a Da Nang hospital.
Da Nang is Vietnam’s most popular beach destination, and thousands of visitors were in the city for summer vacation. Across the country, authorities are rushing to test people who have returned home from the coastal city.
Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the country’s Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, said there are at least six other elderly patients with COVID-19 currently in critical condition. All have other underlying illnesses, he said.
Vietnam had been a global success story in combating the coronavirus with zero deaths and no cases of local transmission for 99 days. But a week ago an outbreak began at Da Nang Hospital.
France’s health ministry reports sharp rise in cases
France’s health ministry reported a 54 percent rise in new coronavirus cases confirmed over the past week, calling the “marked increase” a worrying sign of the virus’s resurgence alongside a concurrent surge in hospitalizations and patients needing intensive care.
“The increase in clusters was due to large family gatherings as well as public and private events,” the agency said in a statement, the Guardian reported. It also attributed the rise to a “drop in the systematic adoption of prevention measures (keeping . . . distance, not shaking hands and stopping embraces).”