By Rachael Grealish
After a four-week delay England’s ‘Freedom Day’ will go ahead from Monday July 19, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
Speaking from Downing Street today, Monday July 12, Boris Johnson said ‘now is the right moment to proceed’, but urges everyone to ‘proceed now with caution’.
He said: “We have cases rising significantly with more than 30,000 per day and we can see what is happening across Europe as the Delta variant takes hold among our friends.
“We know we’re going to see more hospitalisations and more deaths from COVID, but we also know this wave was foreseen by our scientists when we first set out that roadmap in February and if anything, so far, and we are in the middle range of their projections for infections and the at lower end of their projections for mortality.
“And we also know if we delay this fourth step, for instance to September or later, we would reopening as the weather gets colder and as the virus acquires a greater natural advantage and when schools are back.
“So we think now is the right moment to proceed, when we have the natural firebraker of the school holidays in the next few days.
“It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and I can’t say this powerfully or emphatically enough, this pandemic is not over. This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family.”
The PM said social distancing and mask wearing restrictions will be lifted, but has stressed the country will not go back ‘instantly’ to pre-COVID times.
“We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday July 19, to life as it was before COVID-19,” he continued, “We will stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and lift social distancing but, we expect and recommend people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces – where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport.
“We’re removing the instruction to work from home where you can, but we don’t expect the whole country will return to their desk, as one, from Monday – and we’re setting out guidance for business for gradual return to work over the summer.
“As a matter of social responsibility we’re urging nightclubs and other venues with larger crowds to make use of the NHS COVID pass which shows proof of vaccination or recent test or natural immunity as a means of entry.
“We urge everyone to keep thinking of others and consider the risks. We’re going to keep our tough border policy, including our quarantine policy. And we’ll keep the test trace and isolate system in place.”
So what changes will go ahead from Monday July 19:
- Masks are not a legal requirement – but are recommended in crowded areas and enclosed spaces, like public transport.
- Work from home is not mandatory, but businesses are recommended to make this gradual.
- Social distancing will be lifted.
- The number of people meeting and gathering is lifted in all situations.
- Remaining businesses, like nightclubs, can reopen – but these venues are urged to utilise the NHS COVID-19 pass.
- People will still need to self-isolate if contacted by Track and Trace or if returning from holidays.