What will happen on 19 July 2021? Covid rules and restrictions set to change from ‘Freedom Day’ in England
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The Prime Minister has confirmed plans for lifting all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England today (5 July) for the final stage of the lockdown roadmap.
The country looks on track to see the final raft of measures removed as planned on 19 July as freedoms are restored.
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He said: "As we come to the fourth step we have to balance the risks.
"If we can't reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and the school holidays, we must ask ourselves 'when will we be able to reopen?'" he said.
Mr Johnson has stressed that a final decision on the reopening of society will be taken next week, but it is expected that it will go ahead on the July date as planned.
But what rules are set to change from 19 July? Here’s what you need to know.
Will I still have to wear a face mask?
Wearing face masks will become voluntary from 19 July in England, except when in hospitals and other health facilities.
As such, this will mean commuters will no longer have to legally wear masks on public transport, while those visiting pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and other indoor venues will not be required by law to cover up.
Although people may still be encouraged to use face coverings in some enclosed spaces where there is close contact with others.
Asked if there were circumstances in which he would continue to wear a face covering, Mr Johnson said it would “depend on the circumstances”.
He went on: “Clearly there’s a big difference between travelling on a crowded Tube train and sitting, late at night, in a virtually empty carriage on the main railway line.”
Some organisations could still make face coverings a condition of carriage.
Will social distancing rules change?
The one-metre plus social distancing requirement will also be scrapped from 19 July.
This means that drinking at the bar will return, removing the rule of table service only, and capacity limits will be scrapped in hospitality and indoor entertainment venues, meaning customers will no longer have to sit apart in the likes of cinemas and theatres.
Customers will also no longer have to scan a QR code to check-in to various venues using the NHS Covid app, or hand over their contact details. Although people will have the option of continuing to do so if they choose.
Will I still have to work from home?
Working from home guidance will be scrapped in England on 19 July, but it will be left up to employers and staff to decide if and when a return to offices will take place.
The government is not launching a campaign encouraging people to go back to their place of work and it is expected that there will be a phased return for many workers.
Will schools still have to isolate?
The government is planning to change isolation rules in schools after whole class ‘bubbles’ have been sent home if just one pupil tests positive for Covid-19.
Instead of forcing the entire bubble to self-isolate, those who have been in contact with a positive case are expected to be given daily tests to help manage outbreaks.
On Tuesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will set out plans to remove bubbles and contact isolation for school pupils.
What about major events and Covid passports?
There will be no compulsory use of Covid status certification – so-called domestic vaccine passports – although firms will be able to voluntarily use the system.
Recent test events have trialled the use of Covid certification – where spectators must provide proof of either full vaccination, a recent negative test or existing immunity – but these so-called ‘vaccine passports’ will not now be compulsory for entry.
The changes to the restrictions mean that mass outdoor events such as festivals and sports matches can return to full capacity.
What about holidays?
People who have received two Covid-19 vaccine doses will soon see quarantine rules scrapped.
This means that fully vaccinated Brits will avoid having to self-isolate for 10 days after returning to England from amber list countries, which currently includes several popular holiday spots.
A date for the rule change has not been confirmed, but it is hoped it may be in place by the end of July or early August, in time for the start of the summer holidays.
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