Since the start of the pandemic, Brits have been eagerly waiting for the day when their lives could go back to normal. And, while the19th of July may not bring total normality, it will undoubtedly see off many restrictions that affect our daily lives.
Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson once again took to Downing Street to give an update on July 19th - famously dubbed ‘Freedom Day.’
Originally lockdown measures were supposed to be eased on June 21st but were delayed due to an uptick in COVID infections. Now, the PM revealed his confidence that COVID restrictions will be relaxed on the 19th. However, the date will be confirmed on the 12th of July when the latest data gets released.
What rules will be lifted on July 19th?
During last night’s press conference, Boris Johnson outlined exactly which COVID measures will be lifted and which ones are still being discussed.
Legal requirements for masks indoors will be lifted on the 19th of July,but businesses will be able to set the rules for their own premises.
During his announcement, Boris Johnson revealed that he would continue to wear a mask out of ‘courtesy’ and recommended everyone else to exercise their judgement. England’s medical chief office Chris Witty also outlined three scenarios in which he recommended masks still be used, including:
- Crowded indoor spaces
- Instances when authorities require masks
- Instances where others may be uncomfortable without masks
Calls are also mounting for masks to still be regulation for public transport as it is ‘the simplest and safest option.’
From the 19th of July, social distancing rules such as the ‘one-metre rule’ and the ‘rule of six’ will also be scrapped, leaving residents free to mingle with as many people as they please.
However, social distancing rules will remain for those who have been asked to self-isolate, as well as in airports, where travellers from amber and red list countries could potentially spread COVID variants.
Shops and venues that also wish to continue to enforce social distancing measures will still be permitted to do so.
The scrapping of coronavirus measures means that all businesses that are still closed, such as nightclubs, will finally be allowed to reopen.
Ordering at the bar
Those hoping to go out for dinner or a drink will be happy to know that they no longer need to wait around for table service, as from the 19th, orders can once again be placed at the bar.
Large-scale events such as festivals, concerts and sports games will no longer have an attendance cap. The same goes for indoor entertainment venues such as theatres and cinemas, many of which have remained closed during the pandemic as current attendance restrictions have made it economically unfeasible to open.
Events such as weddings and funerals will also no longer have to abide by any attendance restrictions.
Those enjoying working in their pyjamas may also be required to head back to the office from the 19th, as work-from-home orders will also be lifted on Freedom Day. However, the PM stopped short of urging people to go back to work as he was advised against it by medical advisers.
Workplaces will also be permitted to decide COVID measures if they wish to do so, including the spacing out of desks and use of perspex.
With so many people becoming acclimatised to their home-working environments, the move back to the workplace isn’t expected to be an easy one. Ministers are also looking at giving workers more ways to create flexible working environments, but this wouldn’t give employees the legal right to work from home.
The UK’s traffic light system for travel has its own roadmap and will be largely unaffected by the July 19th Freedom Day. However, ministers are still discussing ways to allow double jabbed residents to bypass quarantine rules.
Germany has also recently announced that it would once again open its borders for fully inoculated Brits. Speaking in a press conference alongside Boris Johnson last week, Angela Merkel revealed:
In the foreseeable future, those who have had double-jabs will be able to travel again without quarantine.
Domestic vaccine passports
From July 19th, domestic vaccine passports or certificates will no longer be needed for fans attending sports matches and concerts as the scheme will be written off.
The domestic passports were previously rolled out temporarily, with events such as the Euro 2020 matches at Wembley and the Men’s and Women’s singles files at Wimbledon being part of the trials.
The number of named visitors allowed at residential-care homes will also be lifted on Freedom Day, but some restrictions such as PPE may remain.
During the lockdown, care home residents were only allowed to leave the premises for high priority reasons such as doctors visits, but from the 19th, this limit will also be scrapped, and residents will finally be permitted to go outdoors for social reasons.