Coronavirus: Boris Johnson outlines lockdown easing for 'a return to normality' by Christmas

THE prime minister has announced his ambition for a ‘return to normality’ for Christmas, with a range of measures including more local lockdown powers for councils and reopening leisure facilities.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 17th July 2020, 12:16 pm
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 12:39 pm

Announcing that the government is ‘planning for the worst and hoping for the best’, prime minister Boris Johnson said councils now have the power to close specific premises, shut outdoor spaces, and cancel events.

Ministers are now able to close whole sectors or types of premises in an area, as well as introduce local stay at home orders.

But Mr Johnson said the country should be ‘looking ahead with optimism’, as he he announced the reopening of leisure facilities, following the reopening of gyms on July 25.

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Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced further easing of lockdown measures. Credit: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

229 people have died at QA Hospital with Covid-19 to date, but there has not been a death linked to the virus in nearly six weeks.

Leisure facilities including bowling, skating rings, casinos, as well as close contact services like beauticians, will be able to reopen from August 1.

Nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed.

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The prime minister said: ‘We're making sure we're ready for winter and planning for the worst.

‘But even as we plan for the worst I strongly believe we should hope for the best.

‘That means looking ahead with optimism, now extending our plan to lift the remaining national measures, which have restricted our lives since March, so we can get back to something closer to normal life.’

The government is no longer advising people to avoid public transport, and it will give employers more discretion as to whether staff should continue to work from home.

The prime minister also confirmed that an additional £3bn of funding for the NHS in England will be used to prepare for a resurgence of the virus in the winter.

He said: ‘This will allow the NHS to continue to use the extra hospital capacity acquired from the independent sector, and also to maintain the Nightingale hospitals, until the end of March.’

He added: ‘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.’

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