British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces plan to ‘significantly return to normalcy’ by Christmas

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday announced a plan for a ‘meaningful return to normalcy’ in the UK by Christmas – as the government seeks to roll back restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus.

“I firmly and sincerely hope that we are able to revisit the outstanding restrictions and allow a greater return to normalcy from November at the earliest, possibly in time for Christmas,” Johnson said.

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Johnson said the plan was conditional on the numbers continuing to stay low and avoiding a second wave. But he said for three weeks, the number of cases identified by testing each day was less than 1,000.

The United Kingdom, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, has slowly reopened its doors, while imposing new social support measures, such as the compulsory wearing of masks in shops and public transport – but not in the offices.

Johnson said he wants to take a more targeted approach, giving local authorities more capacity to close premises and spaces, while drafting regulations on how the government could impose local locks or close areas in a area where there is a peak case.

But for the reopening, he said that from July 25, gymnasiums, swimming pools and other sports facilities will be open and that in August, leisure activities such as skating, casinos, beauticians and the bowling alleys will open.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions at the Parliament in London on Wednesday July 15, 2020 (AP Photo / Frank Augstein)

Employers will have more flexibility in how staff can safely return to work, although the government continues to encourage people to work from home as much as possible.

In the fall, schools will reopen completely. Meanwhile, indoor performances will begin to reopen, and Johnson hopes that sporting events will have an audience in October.

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“Even though we foresee the worst, I firmly believe that we must hope for the best,” he said.

The UK has a death toll of 45,000, the highest in Europe and one of the highest in the world, and has also been one of the countries to apply some of the toughest lockdown measures in response to the virus .

There are fears that a bad flu season in winter, coupled with a coronavirus spike, could overwhelm the country’s national health service. Johnson announced that $ 3.8 billion would be invested in the NHS to help it cope with any second wave, and that the specially designed ‘Nightingale hospitals’, which were largely unused, would remain open until March .

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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