Coronavirus: Boris Johnson sets out plan for ‘significant normality’ by Christmas

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Coronavirus restrictions will ease further in England under plans for a “significant return to normality” by Christmas, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister said people may use public transport for journeys immediately, while advice for employers would change from 1 August.

Mr Johnson said employers would have more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it was safe to do so.

The PM added he was “hoping for the best and planning for the worst”.

Mr Johnson said during a news conference at Downing Street he hoped the country would return to a sense of normality “possibly in time for Christmas”.

But he said the plan “remains conditional” on the UK pulling together to win its “long fight” against Covid-19.

“It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest – possibly in time for Christmas,” he said.

Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own timings for the easing of restrictions.

In the announcement, Mr Johnson said that the government was making it clear to people in England they may use public transport now.

From 1 August, he said: “Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.

He explained that could mean “continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees”.

Also from 1 August, Mr Johnson said most remaining leisure settings, such as bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos, and close-contact services such as beauticians could resume.

Indoor performances with socially-distanced audiences in theatres, music and performance venues will also be allowed from next month.

However, soft play areas and nightclubs will remain closed beyond that date.

From October, he said fans could be able to return to sport stadiums.

At-a-glance: The latest changes

  • From 25 July indoor gyms, pools and other sports facilities can reopen
  • On 1 August the government will update its advice on going to work, asking employers to make decisions about how and where their staff can work safely
  • From the same date, most remaining leisure settings, including bowling, skating rinks, casinos and all close contact services such as beauticians, will be allowed to reopen. Nightclubs and soft play areas will need to remain closed, although this will be kept under review
  • Indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, will also be able to restart and larger gatherings in venues like sports stadiums will be piloted, with a view to wider reopening in the autumn
  • Wedding receptions for up to 30 people will also be allowed from this date
  • In September, schools, nurseries and colleges will be open for all children and young people on a full-time basis, while universities are also working to reopen as fully as possible
  • From October, the government intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums, while conferences and other business events can recommence, subject to the outcome of pilots