Boris Johnson
© Djordje Kojadinovic / Reuters
Boris Johnson
The PM said he was "squeezing the brake pedal" because the number of cases has begun to accelerate across the country.

He vowed not to stand by and allow the virus to "cause more pain and heartache".

Comment: Empty words.

Mr Johnson stopped short of enforcing tighter restrictions but hinted he could do so, a move he had previously likened to using a nuclear deterrent, if infections continue to rise.

He said: "At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally.

"I don't want to tell people to spend less time with their friends.

"But unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further."

Comment: Be good now children, or else you will be grounded.

The decision immediately set alarm bells ringing among the business community, who said it would be a "hammer blow" to the economy.

Speaking in Downing Street Mr Johnson announced that most of the measures which were to be lifted in England today would now be put on ice for at least two weeks.

That means the scheduled return of casinos, ice rinks, bowling alleys and close contact services like beauticians has now been pushed back to August 15.

Face coverings will also become mandatory in indoor settings such as museums and places of worship from August 8. The British Chambers of Commerce said the move would be a blow to firms trying to get back on their feet.

And industry leaders from the beleaguered hospitality trade branded it "devastating" for pubs, restaurants and holiday resorts across Britain.

BCC co-executive director Claire Walker said: "While tackling the public health emergency must be the priority, these announcements - made at short notice - will be a hammer blow to business and consumer confidence at a time when many firms were just starting to get back on their feet.

"Business communities need as much clarity as possible from Government if they are to plan ahead and rebuild their operations in the coming months.

"Ministers must also consider extending support to all firms, many of whom will be forced to close for an even more prolonged period, as well as targeted measures to help businesses placed under localised lockdowns."

The Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: "Today's announcement will come as a massive blow to thousands of small firms, soon-to-be newlyweds, artists and sportspeople.

"However, we were warned that restrictions will need to be responsive to any resurgence in transmissions.

"If the rules for businesses are going to be stop-start - which is understandable - then business support from Government needs to reflect that fact.

Comment: Stop-start- keeping people in a constant state of terror, confusion, apprehension, shock.

"The job retention scheme, bounce back loan scheme and tax breaks have had a big impact to date, and it would be wrong to wind down support while restrictions are increased."

UK Hospitality called on the Government to provide more business support.