England is officially lifting almost all of the remaining lockdown restrictions today as the country prepares for life without COVID curbs.
Significant changes are being made to legislation nationwide surrounding the use of face masks, social distancing, mass gatherings, and working from home.
Businesses which have been forced to close since the beginning of the pandemic – such as nightclubs – are also permitted to reopen from July 19.
The end of lockdown comes after an initial delay, which saw the government push its final roadmap step back by one month to buy more time to vaccinate higher numbers of the population.
COVID case numbers in the UK are at their highest since January – averaging more than 42,000 per day.
As the country unlocks, experts are predicting that numbers could exceed 200,000 per day in a matter of weeks.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is now isolating after testing positive for the virus, and whilst close contacts Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak briefly flirted with the idea of dodging isolation as a part of a pilot scheme (where they’d test every day instead of staying at home), the duo have instead decided to isolate – along with more than a half-a-million fellow Brits who have also been told to do so by track and trace.
The increasing numbers of people being infected and/or urged to quarantine has dampened spirits on what was supposed to be a joyous occasion for the country. But England’s lockdown exit is pressing on regardless – and here is everything that is set to change from today.
Note the below guidance applies to England only. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations.
Social distancing recommendations – such as being asked to stay 2 metres apart – are being largely removed from July 19.
This will mean more people are permitted inside venues – whether that’s bars, restaurants, cinemas or shops.
There will be no more limits on mass gatherings or meeting others, either.
Social distancing rules will remain in place in certain settings – such as hospitals and airports.
Rules for masks, too, are a little bit more complicated. The government has removed the legal requirement to wear face coverings in most places, but has advised people to continue doing so in crowded areas.
On some forms of public transport – like the Greater Manchester Metrolink – face masks remain compulsory beyond July 19.
More information on face mask rules in Manchester can be found here.
Can I order from the bar after July 19?
Yes – bar service is back.
Table ordering in the hospitality sector is no longer mandatory, so punters can head back to the bar and order drinks just like in the old days.
Customers will no longer have to download an app or sign in at venues, either.
When are nightclubs opening again? Are festivals allowed after July 19?
After 16 months of closures, nightclubs are finally allowed to reopen on July 19.
Festivals, too, can proceed as normal.
Mass events such as these may ask people to provide proof of vaccination via the NHS COVID Pass app – upon entry, but this is not a legal requirement.
Can weddings go ahead without restrictions from July 19?
Neither weddings or funerals will have any limits imposed on them after July 19.
Both these types of gatherings can proceed without restrictions on attendances or venue.
Can crowds return to stadiums?
All stadiums – be it sport or music grounds – can operate at maximum capacity once again from July 19.
Should I still work from home?
The government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can.
Ministers have said they “would expect and recommend a gradual return” to the workplace over the summer.
Can I go on holiday again from July 19?
Travel requirements will continue to vary depending on destinations.
In most cases, testing will be required at some stage.
Countries on the green list will have the fewest travel restrictions.
From July 19, passengers coming back to England from nations on the amber list will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days if they have been fully vaccinated. Visitors from France, however, will still need to self-isolate regardless of their vaccine status.
Any passengers travelling from countries on the red list will still have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days after July 19.
Masks will still be required on many flights.
For more information on travel rules, visit the Gov UK website.
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