Boris to reveal nine-month plan to 'get UK back to near-normal'

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a nine-month plan to get the country back to ‘near-normal’ following the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the public today, the Prime Minister will explain how the UK will revive its economy and reveal his plan for getting workers back to the office.

His plan includes a £3 billion fund to get the NHS ‘battle-ready for winter’ in case of a second wave of the disease, MailOnline reports.

He will also ditch blanket advice to avoid public transport and work from home, and set out an ‘aspirational’ timetable to lift social distancing measures.

The PM however will warn the UK it will be nine months before a more normal life can resume.

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He is also expected to set a new target of 500,000 tests a day to help tackle any flare-ups of the disease, The Sun reports. 

And it is thought he will also announce plans for ‘lightning lockdowns’ – the fast implementation of measures to halt the spread of the virus in local areas.

Councils are expected to be given powers to shut pubs and cafés without going to Government first.

The rules could even allow town hall bosses to ban weddings and other gatherings at short notice.

Test and trace chief Dido Harding is expected to join the PM at the press conference to explain how the plans will work.

A Government health source told the Sun: ‘Councils will be able to impose lighting lockdowns where they see fit.’

The PM may also deliver official Government guidance on wearing masks in shops.

But the moves follow public and private resistance from his scientific experts.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, told MPs earlier this week there was ‘absolutely no reason’ to drop the advice to work from home, although many fear it is crippling town and city centre economies.

In addition, he called for social distancing measures to remain, saying the UK was ‘still at a time when distancing measures are important’.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty is also said to be ‘very uneasy’ about moves to ease social distancing rules. He has previously suggested that the measures, such as advice to remain at least one or two metres apart, will be needed until a vaccine is developed.

Mr Johnson will also announce the NHS will receive an extra £3 billion in funding to prepare for a possible second wave of the pandemic.

It comes after a warning there could be 120,000 hospital deaths over the winter in the UK in a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’.

Downing Street said the funding will allow extra hospital capacity while allowing routine treatments and procedures to continue.

It will also mean private hospital capacity can be used and Nightingale hospitals can be maintained until the end of March 2021.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of the British people, the virus is under control and we have eased restrictions in a cautious, phased way.

‘But the Prime Minister is clear that now is not the time for complacency, and we must make sure our NHS is battle ready for winter.

‘Tomorrow, he will set out a broad package of measures to protect against both a possible second wave, and to ease winter pressures and keep the public safe.’

Stockpiles of protective equipment such as masks and gowns will also be built up again.

Mr Johnson is also expected to formally drop the official guidance to ‘work from home if you can’, which has been in place since the lockdown began in March.

Mr Johnson said in an online question and answer session with the public on Friday: ‘I want people to go back to work as carefully as possible. It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.

‘I think everybody has sort of taken the “stay at home if you can” – I think we should now say, well, “Go back to work if you can”.

‘Because I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally.

‘I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.’

The PM is expected to set out a roadmap on Friday to show how staff can return to work over the next nine months.

August, which is typically quiet due to the summer holidays, has been marked as a good time to set these plans into motion.

Mr Johnson will also reveal details on using public transport safely, including advising people to avoid travelling during the peak rush hour of 7am to 9am – particularly in London.

Workers will be encouraged to drive, walk and cycle where possible and only use buses and trains between 9am and 4pm, and after 8pm.

A Whitehall source confirmed that the official guidance would be ‘tidied up’ to reflect the PM’s back-to-work message.

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