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Johnson says employers must decide who works from home as he announces easing of restrictions

He said he will also set out major relaxations of lockdown to pave the way for theatres and sports stadiums to reopen.

Image: PA

BORIS JOHNSON TODAY eased the work-from-home guidance and paved the way for theatres and sports stadiums to reopen as he set out plans for a “significant return to normality” in England from as early as November.

The UK Prime Minister said 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 if pilots are successful, while trials will begin for sports stadiums to reopen from October.

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.

“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 added.

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.

Johnson’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 Johnson 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.

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Today, he told a Lords committee social distancing “remains an important part of this mix” of measures to stem the disease’s spread, which will “need to continue for a long period of time”.

Newly-released documents also showed scientists advising the Government said on June 22 they do not believe it is possible to return to “pre-Covid normality” without contact tracing and other measures that would “be difficult to achieve” unless a vaccine is found.

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 lanes, skating rinks, casinos and beauticians can reopen as long as they have measures in place to reduce Covid-19 transmission.

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