Boris Johnson set to confirm 19 July as freedom day
Boris Johnson has urged people to “remain vigilant and exercise caution” as he prepares to confirm that almost all Covid restrictions will be removed on 19 July.
Johnson also warned people in a statement tonight that “cases will rise as we unlock” in just over one week’s time.
Johnson announced last week that the next step on the roadmap out of lockdown will mean the end of the one-metre plus rule, mandatory face masks and limits on social gatherings.
Hospitality venues will be able to open in full and night clubs will be able to operate once again.
There have been some concerns that freedom day will come just as the Delta Covid variant surges across the UK.
There have been 213,528 Covid cases in the past seven days, indicating a 30 per cent weekly rise.
However, the government has said the UK’s vaccination rates – two-thirds of people are double-jabbed – will prevent these cases translating into a wave of Covid deaths.
“We are tantalisingly close to the final milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning,” Johnson said.
“While the phenomenal vaccine rollout has offered every adult some protection against the virus, and the crucial link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is weakened, the global pandemic is not over yet.
“Cases will rise as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear. Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect our NHS.”
It comes as vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky news that people will be “expected” to wear face masks indoors after 19 July in an apparent shift in the government’s previous position.
Johnson said last week that face masks would be a “personal choice” after 19 July, but that the government would advise people that wearing them indoors is a good idea.
Zahawi said: “It’s important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we will set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces and of course to remain vigilant with hands and face.
“What we need to make sure is as the virus gets desperate and attempts to infect people, to mutate and be able to survive, we should continue to fortify the nation with a vaccination programme because that is the way we transition it from pandemic to endemic status.”