Freedom Day: What you can and can’t do after restrictions are lifted on July 19
Boris Johnson has said the country can move to stage four of the plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions on July 19, dubbed Freedom Day.
Here is a guide to what you can and can’t do from Monday, including detailed information on wearing masks.
Official Government guidelines say that while cases are high and rising, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious.
The UK is “not out of the woods yet” and the public should approach the end of coronavirus restrictions next Monday with caution, according to Professor Chris Whitty England’s Chief Medical Officer.
Most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 will be lifted at step 4.
You will not need to stay 2m apart from people you do not live with. There will also be no limits on the number of people you can meet.
However, in order to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, you should limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
Meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces.
The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer.
The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
There will no longer be limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events (including receptions and celebrations). There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing. You should follow guidance for weddings and funerals to reduce risk and protect yourself and others.
There will no longer be restrictions on group sizes for attending communal worship.
The Government is keeping in place key protections at step 4 from July 19:
- Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
- Isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- Border quarantine: for all arriving from red list countries and for those people not fully vaccinated arriving from amber list countries.
Where do I need to wear a mask after restrictions ease?
The remaining coronavirus restrictions in England will be lifted on Monday, with people no longer required by law to wear masks.
But the Government has said people will still be expected to wear face masks in certain situations while some businesses, travel operators and local politicians have said that masks will still be required to use services.
- Where people will need to wear face coverings once restrictions ease.
The latest guidance, issued on Wednesday, says the Government “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces such as public transport.
Health leaders, local politicians, shop bosses and transport chiefs have all said that they will continue to require or encourage people to wear face coverings.
– Do people need masks to go to the shops then?
Tesco, Sainsbury’s Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose say they will encourage customers and staff to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets from when restrictions ease.
– What about going to a hospital or GP appointment?
Staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said that it will take every precaution possible to help protect patients and visitors to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop and Montagu Hospital in Mexborough will be asked to don masks.
What about transport?
People in South and West Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the combined authorities.
Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar and airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings from July 19.
But the train industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced that all domestic train operators, such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, will not require passengers to wear face coverings.
It said rail companies will ask people to follow the Government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents major bus and coach operators such as National Express and Megabus, has also said that its members will not mandate the wearing of face coverings from Monday.
The UK is “not out of the woods yet” and the public should approach the end of coronavirus restrictions next Monday with caution, Professor Chris Whitty has said.
England’s Chief Medical Officer warned that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is currently doubling about every three weeks and could reach “quite scary numbers” if the trend continues.
And ministers could consider re-implementing restrictions if the spread of the virus becomes “unacceptable”, according to the Solicitor General.
The comment comes despite the Prime Minister regularly stating he wanted the removal of most legal measures in England on July 19 to be “irreversible”.
Lucy Frazer told Sky News: “I think the Health Secretary has been very clear, as has the Prime Minister, that we will see infections rise.
“But the reason why restrictions are being taken away is because of the vaccination programme, which will protect people when those infections do rise.
“Of course, if we get into a situation where it is unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that of course is something the Government will look at."