Casinos, sports centres and casinos have been given the green light to reopen in August.
Boris Johnson today announced his blueprint for life in the UK to return to something close to normal by Christmas as he set out major relaxations of the lockdown.
The news comes as a shot in the arm to the leisure industry which is facing a jobs bloodbath caused by the coronavirus pandemic, warning it was ‘on its knees’ just days ago.
From next month, wedding receptions for up to 30 people can resume, and bowling, skating rinks, casinos and beauty salons can reopen providing they have measures in place to reduce Covid-19 transmission.
Pilots to reopen sports stadiums will include the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield from July 31 and the Glorious Goodwood horse racing festival from August 1.
But the move has sparked a backlash from parents after the Prime Minister refused to reopen soft play areas.
Nightclubs and soft play areas will have to remain closed and Mr Johnson said that the Government will try to allow more close contact between loved ones ‘when we can’.
Mr Johnson said that remaining leisure facilities like bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will be allowed to reopen from August 1 but night clubs will remain shut for the foreseeable future
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today set out the next stage in his plan to return life to normal in the UK
Boris Johnson’s timetable for getting life in the UK back to normal
Today: Rules on using public transport will be relaxed so that ‘anybody may use’ buses, tubes and trains. Public transport no longer needs to be treated as a last resort.
Tomorrow: New ‘lightning lockdown’ powers for councils will be introduced to allow them to shut public spaces and premises without consulting the Government to stop outbreaks.
Next week: New local lockdown draft powers for ministers will be published to allow them to issue stay at home orders and travel restrictions.
August: New rules on working from home to be introduced to encourage more workers to return to their offices. Remaining leisure facilities like bowling alleys, casinos and skating rinks will be able to reopen from August 1.
October: Stadiums could reopen to audiences for sport and music events, depending on the success of a pilot programme.
November: All outstanding restrictions to be reviewed and eased in November at the earliest and ‘possibly in time for Christmas’.
Mr Johnson’s timetable for the further easing of coronavirus restrictions came as:
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered Public Health England to review the way it counts deaths because of a ‘statistical flaw’ that means officials have ‘over-exaggerating’ the daily toll.
- It emerged PHE has been counting people as victims of coronavirus even if they die of another cause at another time having previously tested positive for Covid-19.
- A new study suggested Britain may already have developed herd immunity against coronavirus because many people have suffered from milder strains of similar types of infection in the past.
- Security Minister James Brokenshire said the UK is at least 95 per cent certain the Kremlin gave the green light for Russian cyber attacks designed to steak coronavirus vaccine research.
- But he insisted there was ‘no evidence’ that the raids had been successful as he said they are ‘completely unacceptable’.
- Official data showed the rate of spread of coronavirus across the UK is at minus five per cent to minus one per cent while the R rate of reproduction remains between 0.7 and 0.9.
From August 1, most remaining leisure centres will reopen and indoor performances with live audiences can resume, with trials beginning for sports stadiums to reopen from October.
The Prime Minister used the Downing Street press conference to set out his timetable for the further easing of lockdown measures.
Mr Johnson said he hoped for a ‘more significant return to normality by November’, as he announced further reopening of the economy.
He told today’s briefing: ‘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.
Green light for fans to return to stadiums: Boris Johnson announces sports grounds could let spectators back in from October
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced crowds could return to sports stadiums in the United Kingdom from October subject to successful pilot events starting later this month.
Sports events have taken place without crowds since they restarted in recent weeks because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.
But laying out the next steps in lifting lockdown on Friday morning, Mr Johnson said: ‘From 1 August, we will restart indoor performance to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.
‘From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadia. Again, these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots.’
It raises the possibility that only the first month of the 2020-21 football season will be played out behind closed doors, with supporters allowed back in the autumn.
The pilot events – which would see a limited number of spectators admitted to stadiums with social distancing rules observed – could begin this month.
It has been reported that pilot events will include the County Championship cricket match between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval on July 26, the Glorious Goodwood race meet between July 28 and August 1, and the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible from July 31.
‘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.’
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.’
But he warned: ‘We will not proceed if doing so risks a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.
‘Nonetheless it is important to give people hope and to give business confidence, so in England from today we are making clear that anybody may use public transport while of course encouraging people to consider alternative means of transport where they are available.’
He also said restrictions on the use of public transport in England are being dropped from today with trips on the train and bus to no longer be viewed as the option of last resort.
Crucially, the PM also said the Government is hoping to review all the remaining ‘outstanding restrictions’ in the coming months in order to allow a ‘more significant return to normality from November’ and ‘possibly in time for Christmas’.
However, Mr Johnson insisted that all of the proposed changes would only go ahead if the spread of coronavirus continues to fall and that ‘we will not hesitate at any stage to put on the brakes’ if there is an increase in infections.
The PM also said the Government was targeting the reopening of stadiums in the autumn with audiences potentially returning to football matches and outdoor gigs in October.
He said: ‘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 sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.’
He added: ‘From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia and to allow conferences and other business events to recommence.
‘Again these changes must be done in a Covid secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots.’
So where were Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty? No10 scientific advisers are notably absent as Boris Johnson gives latest Covid address – hours after SAGE chief snubbed PM’s return-to-work plea
By Jack Elsom for MailOnline
Signs of a rift between Boris Johnson and his top scientific advisers deepened today after they were sidelined from his Downing Street address.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty were notable absentees from this morning’s press conference.
The experts have become familiar faces at the Number 10 podium during the crisis, regularly flanking the PM for big announcements.
Instead, Mr Johnson was joined by NHS test and trace chief Dido Harding during his clarion call for workers to go back to offices to rescue the ailing high street.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (left) and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty (right) were notable absentees from this morning’s press conference (pictured at an earlier press conference)
He also gave the green light for casinos, bowling alleys and ice rinks to reopen next month.
But much of the attention was focused on the break-up of the so-called ‘three amigos’ which came after Sir Patrick yesterday hinted disapproval of the government’s haste to unlock the economy.
Sir Patrick told MPs he thought people should continue to work from home if they can can, putting him at loggerheads with the PM who is banging the drum for offices to reopen.
Speaking to the Commons science and technology committee, he said: ‘Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it’s easy to do.
‘I think a number of companies think it’s actually not detrimental to productivity. And in that situation, [there is] absolutely no reason I can see to change it.’
But his concerns did not put the brakes on the PM, who pressed ahead with lifting restrictions today.
At the live Number 10 press conference, Mr Johnson was grilled on how his blueprint married up to Sir Patrick’s comments.
He said: ‘I totally agree with Sir Patrick Vallance on what he’s saying. Obviously it’s not for government to decide how employers should run their companies or whether they want their employees in the office.
‘What we’re saying is if employers think it would be better, more productive for employees to come into the office and work in a safe and Covid-secure way then there should be discussions between the employers and employees and people should take a decision.
‘And we want to encourage people to think it is safe to come into work provided employers make their businesses Covid-secure.’
Sir Patrick will once again be before parliament this afternoon when he and Prof Whitty attend the Lords science and technology committee.
They will likely be pressed on whether they endorse the PM’s latest road map.