Masks, mass events and more in the office: What Freedom Day means for you
Millions of Londoners will enjoy a range of new liberties from 19 July, after Boris Johnson this evening announced the coronavirus restrictions that will be lifted as planned.
Back in February when the PM outlined the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, he told MPs that step four would entail “all legal limits on social contact” being removed.
Ministers have indicated that after 16 months of social distancing restrictions in the UK, the government is now shifting the onus on to individuals and businesses – who will be able to choose to continue some measures at their own discretion.
The government has confirmed it will proceed with step four of the roadmap to restrictions ending today.
So what restrictions are set to no longer be compulsory as of 19 July?
After 16 months of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions in the UK, here’s what the PM’s announcement this evening means for you:
Will I have to wear a mask in public places?
Yes and no. Face masks will no longer be legally required, but the government will encourage people to continue wearing them in enclosed public spaces – eg: public transport.
And on that note, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made it pretty clear that if the government lifted mandatory face coverings on public transport, he and TfL commissioner Andy Byford would coordinate with train operators to find a separate agreement that made travellers feel safest on London transport.
A spokesperson for Khan said: “The Mayor has always been clear that face coverings have an important role to play both in giving Londoners confidence to travel on public transport, which will be crucial in our economic recovery, and as a tool to protect each other during this pandemic.”
After announcing the lifting of restrictions last week, Boris Johnson did say that even after 19 July, he would continue to wear a mask in crowded places “as a courtesy”.
It comes as a new YouGov poll suggested that the majority of Britons think face masks should continue to be mandatory on both public transport (71 per cent), as well as in shops and some enclosed public spaces (66 per cent) beyond when restrictions are lifted.
Should I go into work?
The government’s “work from home if you can” guidance will be scrapped, leaving the decision about the return to the office up to individual businesses and employees.
Will I be able to order a pint from the bar?
Freedom Day will also mark the end of compulsory table service in pubs and restaurants – meaning QR code menus and pub apps may soon be a thing of the past.
Instead, it’s a return to the scrum at the bar – unless individual venues choose to keep table service going.
You will also no longer be required to wear a mask when you walk from your table to the toilet – and you’ll be able to dance round your table again … if you so desire.
Can I go to a pub/restaurant with more than six people?
Yes. There will no longer be a compulsory cap on the amount of people you can book for a pub outing or restaurant table, and you’ll be able to meet with an unlimited amount of friends both in public spaces and at home.
Will nightclubs reopen?
After 16 months of closure, the clubs and music venues that have survived the pandemic will finally be able to reopen their doors.
Music and dance lovers all over the UK will be able to return to the dancefloor without a mask – and join a sweaty queue at the bar once again.
What about large events?
Live gigs, music festivals, and sporting events will be able to take place without any social distancing restrictions in place.
19 July will also mark an end to all limits on the number of people who can attend weddings and funerals.
Large-scale events will also not legally require certification.
Will I still have to keep a distance from others?
The one-metre-plus social distancing requirement will be lifted, except for if someone is self-isolating with Covid.
Social distancing will still remain in place at airports and country borders.
Is it the end of venue check-ins?
Venue check-ins through the NHS phone app will no longer be required by law.
There will also be no legal requirement for Covid passports for those that are double vaccinated – but businesses can use them if they prefer.
What is still TBC?
The government will announce whether school bubbles will remain in place later this week.
We will also find out in due course whether people who have received two doses of the vaccine will have to isolate when they receive a notification from the NHS track and trace app after contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Any changes to quarantine rules for entering the country will also be announced later this week.