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Boris Johnson has announced a further easing of the coronavirus lockdown, confirming a number of activities and businesses can reopen from next month.
Unveiling the next steps in the easing of England’s COVID-19 restrictions, leisure settings, indoor performances and sports stadiums were given the green light to start welcoming people back in the coming months.
Johnson set out the new timetable at a Downing Street press briefing on Friday, saying that he hoped a “significant return to normality” could come by Christmas.
He said that if the virus stayed under control the country could “move away” from social distancing measures in November.
These are the latest lockdown easing measures:
Already confirmed before the briefing, gyms and leisure centres have been given permission to reopen from midway through next week.
Most other leisure settings including bowling arenas, skating rinks and casinos can reopen from 1 August, Johnson confirmed on Friday.
Indoor performances with live audiences will be allowed and pilot schemes of larger gatherings in places like sports stadiums will be held “with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn”.
Nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed, Johnson added.
Wedding receptions will be allowed for up to 30 people and beauticians offering close-quarters treatments can restart business.
From the beginning of August, blanket advice to work from homes will be dropped.
The PM said it will be up to employers to discuss with workers whether it is safe to return from 1 August.
Johnson said audiences could come back in stadiums and conferences and businesses events could be allowed to resume subject to successful trials from October.
A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the test events were taking place in order “to build up to and prepare for the full, socially distanced return of sporting events from October 1, 2020”.
Back to normality
After unveiling the timetable, the prime minister said: “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.
“What we’re saying is that we hope that by November at the earliest, if we can continue to make progress in our struggle against the virus then it may, may conceivably be possible to move away from the social distancing measures, from the one-metre rule and other things by that time”.
Johnson announced the timeframe alongside extra powers for local authorities and an outline of how government will impose local lockdowns if a coronavirus outbreak gets out of hand.
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