Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out new plans to ease lockdown, and hopes life will return to normality by Christmas
Boris Johnson has today announced fresh measures to bring the UK further out of lockdown and said life may be able to return to normal by the end of the year.
In this morning's conference at Downing Street, the Prime Minister set out the next stage of the roadmap to bring the country back to life in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Johnson said: "It is my strong and sincere hope 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.
"Some may say this plan is optimistic and the risks are too great.
"If they are right - and we cannot exclude that they could be - let me reassure them and reassure you that we will not hesitate at any stage to put on the brakes."
Throughout the briefing, which gave target dates for the easing of restrictions still in place, the Prime Minister said all dates were contingent on people following the Covid-19 safety guidelines.
The government has also kickstarted the return to workplaces, by announcing employers will be able to invite employees back providing premises are safe and following the correct safety measures.
Mr Johnson said: "Instead of government telling people to work from home, we’re going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely."
The advice for return to workplaces will be updated on August 1.
Also from the beginning of August, leisure settings such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos and beauticians will be allowed to reopen.
Nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed for now.
There will also be an extensive pilot scheme for indoor performances, with a view to returning live performances in stadiums by October.
Despite his optimism in controlling the virus and returning the UK to a sense of normality, Mr Johnson also warned of a potential spike of Covid-19 in the winter, saying: "It’s possible the virus will be more virulent in the winter months."
To combat a potential strain on the NHS, the PM announced £3 billion of funding for the NHS to prepare for winter pressures, in addition to “the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in the history of the UK".
Mr Johnson added: "We’re making sure we’re prepared for winter and planning for the worst."
Alongside a relaxing of restrictions, he also announced new powers for local authorities which will allow them to close premises, shut outdoor spaces and cancel events.
According to Mr Johnson, the new roadmap is a result of the rate of people testing positive falling in the past month, from 12.2% on June 29 to just 4.8% yesterday.