KEY POINTS

  • Starting Aug. 1, companies would be able to choose whether they would like their employees to work from home or return to the office. 
  • Schools, colleges and nurseries would be open to students at the beginning of September
  • Johnson has given local authorities more power to enact lockdown policies if cases spike in certain areas.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he would ease some coronavirus lockdown measures in the United Kingdom. Starting Aug. 1, companies would be able to choose whether they would like their employees to work from home or return to the office. 

"Instead of government telling people to work from home, we're going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff could work safely," Johnson said at a government briefing. "Whatever employers decide, they should consult closely with their employees. In the end, human interaction and face to face conversations are important.” 

Schools, colleges and nurseries would be open to students at the beginning of September, while beauty salons will be able to reopen on Aug. 1.

Johnson also claimed that sports such as soccer and cricket could reopen to the public in the fall. 

"We will pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadiums with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn," Johnson said. "From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadiums. Again, these changes must be done in a COVID-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots."

Johnson has given local authorities more power to enact lockdown policies if cases spike in certain areas.

“We can control [the pandemic] through targeted local action,” Johnson said. 

Although Johnson seems to be taking a more optimistic view of the pandemic, experts have warned that the U.K. could see an additional 120,000 deaths this winter due to a second wave of the virus. Health experts have claimed that cooler weather could result in more intense COVID-19 transmission. 

As of 11:15 a.m. ET, the U.K. has nearly 295,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 45,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.