Speaking from Downing Street on Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans for the further easing of Coronavirus restrictions in England over the coming months.
A large number of lockdown and general Coronavirus restrictions have already been eased in England, so, what new changes did the Prime Minister announce and how will they impact our lives?
Heading back to work
Brits had been urged to work from home where possible, though this message has become less prevalent in recent weeks. On Friday, Mr Johnson said that from 1 August, advice for employers will change.
Businesses that employ staff will have more discretion over whether to bring staff back to workplaces or to allow them to keep working from home.
Many believe that a large number of people will continue to work from home, but some staff may soon be told by their employers to head back to their office or place of work in person, rather than through technologies such as video conferencing that so many have got used to during the pandemic.
Where employers do ask staff to return to the physical workplace, they will be responsible for ensuring they are abiding by COVID-secure guidelines. In Wales, the advice is to remain that people should work from home where possible.
More leisure settings to reopen
Also from 1 August, most leisure settings that remain closed will be able to reopen in England. Bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos and close contact services such as beauticians will be allowed to reopen.
The reopenings will come after 25 July, on which date indoor swimming pools, gyms and other sports facilities can start to reopen in England.
Also in August, live concerts and indoor theatre shows will be able to resume – though with socially distanced audiences.
More use of Public Transport
Boris Johnson has said that as of today, anyone can use public transport in England, though people should consider using alternative forms of transport where they are available.
Members of the public had previously been told to only use public transports for ‘essential’ journies.
The change in messaging applies to all public transport in England – including buses, trains and the London Underground, and it is thought that operators are being advised to drop ‘Do Not Travel’ messages.
Except for some people who are exempt from the rules, the wearing of face coverings is mandatory on public transport in England and has been since 15 June.
Looking further ahead
The government has said that it intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums and conference centres from October, subject to pilots. Boris Johnson also said that social distancing could end in England in November.
The government has said that nightclubs and soft play areas must continue to remain closed until further notice.
What else did the Prime Minister say?
Boris Johnson said that the easing of restrictions is dependent on continued progress in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that he would “not hesitate at any stage to put on the brakes” on the lockdown easing if required.
There are fears of a spike in Coronavirus cases in the winter months at the end of the year. The government has said that the NHS in England will get an extra £3bn of funding in order to help it prepare for a possible second wave.
Mr Johnson also said that this winter would see the country’s largest vaccination programme in the health service’s history, while he said the capacity for testing would be upped to at least 500,000 tests a day before the start of November.
Photo Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)