Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed his intention to remove all remining lockdown restrictions in England on 19 July.
Mr Johnson announced the plans in a Downing Street press conference on Monday (5 July), which will see social distancing and face mask rules scrapped later this month, while all business that are still closed will finally be able to reopen, including nightclubs.
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Measures were initially meant to be lifted on 21 June but were delayed due to concerns over the rapidly spreading Delta variant, first identified in India, which now accounts for more than 96 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in the UK.
The strain is thought to be up to 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent last year, and has sparked a rise in hospital admissions.
Health experts feared that going ahead with step four of the lockdown roadmap on 21 June as planned could result in further hospitalisations on the scale of the first wave of the outbreak last year, which could put unbearable pressure on the NHS.
When is ‘Freedom Day’ in England?
Mr Johnson has set 19 July as the date for the end of remaining lockdown restrictions in England.
The new date comes four weeks after the final phase of the roadmap was initially due to end, but it was decided it was “sensible to wait just a little longer” to end all legal limits on social contact due to the spreading Delta variant.
The target of offering all adults at least one jab was also brought forward to 19 July, with over 23s invited to book their jabs from Tuesday (15 June).
The Prime Minister said he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary and hopes that deaths will significantly be reduced by that point, as two-thirds of adults will have been offered both vaccine doses.
The delay means that limits on numbers attending sports events, pubs, cinemas and theatres will remain in place until mid-July.
Nightclubs will also remain closed and people will continue to be asked to work from home where possible.
What restrictions changed on 21 June?
Mr Johnson confirmed that the cap of 30 guests for wedding ceremonies and receptions will be lifted on 21 June.
As with current rules for funerals, the number of attendees will be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.
However, food and drink must be ordered, served and consumed by guests seated at a table, and dancing indoors is still not permitted, except for the couple’s first dance.
Care home residents will also be permitted to stay overnight with friends and family from Monday (21 June) without needing to quarantine for 14 days on return to their residences.
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