The places still banned from re-opening after Boris Johnson's latest coronavirus update

Boris Johnson has said he will broadly lift the work-from-home guidance and set out major relaxations of the lockdown to pave the way for theatres and sports stadiums to reopen in England.

Friday, 17th July 2020, 1:35 pm
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 1:36 pm

The Prime Minister said on Friday that it will be up to employers to discuss with workers whether it is safe to return from August 1, as he detailed new measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

From that date, he said, most remaining leisure centres will reopen and indoor performances with live audiences can resume, with trials beginning for sports stadiums to reopen from October.

Nightclubs and soft play areas, however, will have to remain closed.

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Bowling balls (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP via Getty Images)

Hee 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."

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."

Mr Johnson also immediately scrapped the advice to avoid public transport in England and detailed plans to extinguish local outbreaks of coronavirus to avoid another national shutdown.

But the relaxation of the strict rules will bring the nation into a new normal, with mask-wearing and social distancing remaining essential parts of life for now.

The PM's easing of the work-from-home guidance potentially pits him against his chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who earlier said there is "absolutely no reason" to change the advice.

But the PM told his Downing Street press conference: "It is not for government to decide how employers should run their companies and whether they want their workforces in the office or not - that is for companies."

In response to a question from the public, the PM said it "may conceivably be possible" to depart from social distancing measures "by November at the earliest".

Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty has previously warned that social distancing measures will need to stay in place until the discovery of a vaccine or highly-effective drugs to reduce Covid-19's severity.

Mr Johnson said Sir Patrick and Prof Whitty had taken part in a Cabinet discussion before the relaxation was announced but said "in the end decisions are taken by the elected politicians".

From next month, wedding receptions for up to 30 people can resume, and bowling, skating rinks, casinos and beauticians can reopen as long as 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.