British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced coronavirus restrictions will ease further in England under plans for a “significant return to normality” by Christmas.

At a Downing Street news conference, Johnson said the plans are conditional on continued progress in controlling the virus. He said: “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.”

The Prime Minister announced indoor performances, with socially distanced audiences, can take place in England from the start of August. But Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, explained that for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with restricted audiences. His hope his progression to theatres being allowed to open fully with the appropriate safety measures. “Without this most theatres cannot reopen viably,” he said, “and we need the go-ahead for Christmas shows, on which the survival of many theatres depends, in the next few weeks at the very latest.”