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UK PM Johnson postpones next stage of lockdown lifting due to rising COVID infections

British Prime Minster Boris Johnson applies hand sanitiser during a visit to North Yorkshire Police to meet with recently graduated police officers in Northallerton, Britain July 30, 2020. Charlotte Graham/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he would postpone the next stage of lockdown easing for at least two weeks due to a pick-up in COVID-19 infection rates.

“On Saturday 1 August we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher-risk settings that had remained closed ... Today I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight,” Johnson said at a news conference.

“I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people ... I am really, really sorry about that but we simply cannot take the risk.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison