Boris Johnson says he hopes country can return to 'normal' life in time for Christmas

17 July 2020, 11:44

Boris Johnson announced a series of measures aimed at bringing the UK back to normality.
Boris Johnson announced a series of measures aimed at bringing the UK back to normality. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson today announced new powers for local authorities in England to tackle covid-19 outbreaks, saying that he hoped things would head towards "normality" in time for Christmas.

The prime minister unveiled a series of measures including allowing councils to put in place "local stay at home orders", closing certain premises and restricting transport in the event of a spike in cases.

The new powers come into effect from Saturday and will allow local authorities to shut outdoor spaces and cancel events, Mr Johnson 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," he said.

"If we continue to pull together, as we have done so far, I know we can beat this virus: hoping for the best, but planning for the worst, and it’s in that spirit that we must carry on waging this long, hard fight against coronavirus."

In other developments, the Prime Minister announced:

- Stadiums and conferences can restart from October, provided it is safe

- Guidance for offices largely remains unchanged, but firms can bring workers back if they have made it safe to do so

- From August 1, bowling alleys, skating rinks, and weddings of up to 30 people are allowed, but nightclubs and soft play areas must stay closed

The Prime Minister had widely been expected to update the nation on how people can safely return to work.

He said today that working from home was still an option, but he paved the way for office workers to return, adding that employers must steps to make workplaces safe.

Bowling alleys and skating rinks can reopen from August 1, he said, but nightclubs and soft play areas must remain closed.

He said that the government hopes to be able to allow stadium events and conferences to start again from October.

He said: "From August 1, we will reopen most remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rings, casinos and we will enable close contact services, beauticians to resume.

"Nightclubs, soft play areas - sadly - need to remain closed for now, although this will be kept under review.

"We will restart indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sport stadia, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.

"We will also allow wedding receptions for up to 30 people."

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Yesterday chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that he saw no reason to change the current guidance for people to work from home if they can.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Johnson had allocated an extra £3bn for the NHS to deal with a possible second wave of coronavirus.

No 10 said the money will give hospitals greater capacity while also ensuring routine treatments and procedures continue unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Patrick warned that Covid-19 is likely to be around for a number of years, amid fears that the virus could rebound in the winter.