Boris Johnson sets out plan for ‘significant normality’ by Christmas
Coronavirus restrictions will ease further in England under plans for a “significant return to normality” by Christmas, Boris Johnson has announced.
Under the new guidelines, people may use public transport for journeys immediately, while advice for employers will change from 1 August.
Companies will have more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it is safe to do so, the PM explained.
Mr Johnson added he was “hoping for the best and planning for the worst”.
At a news conference at Downing Street, the prime minister said the roadmap “remains conditional” on continued progress in controlling the virus and preventing a second wave of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.
“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.
Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own timings for the easing of restrictions.
In the announcement, Mr Johnson said the government was making it clear to people in England they may use public transport now.
From 1 August, he said: “Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.”
He explained that could mean “continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees”.
The government’s current social distancing guidance requires people to stay at least 1m apart with certain precautions.
On Thursday, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told MPs there was “absolutely no reason” to change the government’s current guidance on working from home.
The government has advised people to “work from home if you can” since March, and Sir Patrick said home working was still a “perfectly good option” for many.
Asked about those comments at the news conference, the PM said he “totally agrees” with Sir Patrick and that it was not for the government to tell employers where their workforce should be.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he will look at the details of the government’s plan to get people back to work but stressed “this can’t be done on a wing on a prayer and requires a credible plan and national leadership”.