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.
Are social distancing rules still in place from July 19?
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.
Lee Rigby’s son is raising tens of thousands for charity in honour of his dad
Jack Rigby, the son of soldier Lee Rigby, is raising an absolutely huge amount of money for charity in memory of his father.
Rigby, a former Royal Fusilier who served in Afghanistan for three years, was tragically murdered by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale outside the Woolwich Barracks in May 2013 and now, over a decade after his death, his son is hoping to raise as much as possible in his honour.
His dad was 25 when he was killed and Jack himself was only two-years-old at the time. Now 13, the inspiring young man set out on his fundraising journey earlier this year, completing a marathon on behalf of Scotty’s Little Soldiers back in May, a military bereavement charity.
Setting himself the goal of reaching the ‘Scotty’s March’ £10k target — i.e. hoping to raise a £1,000 for each year since his passing — Jack and his family have been blown after the fundraiser has already amassed over £55k in donations.
With the goalposts now being moved to £60,000 after Jack and his mum Rebecca’s efforts have led to nearly £55k in contributions to the specialised bereavement organisation to support grieving military children and young people up to the age of 25.
Writing in his post when the fundraiser was first set up, Jack said, “This year marked the 10-year anniversary, it’s never easy but this year felt even harder for some reason. To help me through this year I have been concentrating on raising funds and awareness for Scotty’s Little Soldiers…
“This [has] really helped me to concentrate on something positive at a very difficult time while helping this amazing charity“, an intitiave he has been a part ever since he was a young child, adding that he named his dog Scotty in tribute to their important work for military families across the UK.
It was only earlier this year that the teenager spoke out about his father for the first time having already smashed his fundraising target before he had even run his marathon.
As for mum, she said: “Jack was so excited to see the amount grow and seeing how much each donation made him smile meant the world to me. He and I read all the messages of support and were thankful for them all. We honestly couldn’t believe how kind and generous people were being.”
Featured Image — Gov.uk/Jack Rigby (via Scotty’s Little Soldiers)
Greater Manchester’s volunteer police officers are now trained to deal with ‘high tension’ events
Dozens of volunteer police officers across Greater Manchester are now being given public order training to deal with “high tension” events.
In case you aren’t too familiar, Public Order Public Safety (POPS) is an arm of policing that covers a wide range of events and operations that could present instances of high or increased tension, according to Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
Some events of this nature include protests, festivals, sporting events, and disorder – basically, anywhere where there may be a risk to public safety.
In order to make sure there’s more hands on deck when these situations arise, GMP has now confirmed that it’s beginning the process of training up its volunteer workforce – formally known as Police Specials, of which there are currently about 200 employed to work 16-hours each month – to be able to work such events.
This is so they know how to correctly handle and manage potentially tension-filled situations.
GMP says that around 30 Police Specials completed their level two training over four days at the police force’s specialist training centre in Openshaw this week.
This means they can now be deployed at high-profile events.
Chief Superintendent Chris Hill, who is the strategic lead at GMP, say Police Specials play an “important role” for the police force, as they often join response teams or are put to good use by providing a link between local Greater Manchester communities and GMP.
“Special constables have the same powers and look the same as regular officers,” CS Hill explained, “but the difference is they are volunteers and can have regular jobs as well.
“The specials that completed the training are now highly-trained in tactics, as well as how to use equipment including helmets and shields, and can be deployed to high-profile football matches and events or demonstrations where there is an increase in tension.
“We hope this will make joining GMP as a special a more interesting and exciting prospect.”
Mike Walmsley, who is GMP’s Chief Officer and oversees the Special Constabulary, added how great it is to see a “continued investment” in the special constables.
He continued: “Having a team trained to public order level two allows us to further support our colleagues.
“[It will also] unlock more of the potential that the Special Constabulary has.
“We have already started to map out structured learning and supplied them with laptops and, coupled with further opportunities, this will allow our officers to develop further and support in existing and new areas.”