Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a press conference this evening (Monday 5 July) as the government prepares to lift remaining lockdown measures in England in two weeks’ time.
The PM is expected to address rules surrounding social distancing, face masks and working from home – which have all been subject to speculation over the previous few weeks.
According to new reports, Johnson will discuss making face coverings optional on public transport, whilst removing table service requirements at bars/restaurants and allowing festivals/nightclubs to return.
Working from home is likely to be left up to firms.
Johnson said Monday’s update would “set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach step four”, before adding that the “pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks.”
National restrictions have been in force in England since early January, having been gradually eased over a period of months.
The government had originally planned to remove all COVID-19 measures in June, but were forced to delay the reopening date to July 19 as the Delta variant of the virus pushed up cases nationwide.
Nonetheless, ministers have repeatedly claimed the country is on track to lift more curbs later this month – although it remains unclear whether all will be permanently removed in a fortnight. Tonight’s press conference is expected to provide some insight as to what steps the government will take.
On Sunday, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick claimed that wearing masks is set to become a “personal choice” for people in England.
However, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said a “rethink” on this rule would be required, as it would put certain people in an “unfair position”.
The Mayor stated: “I struggle to see how Ministers can drop the requirement to wear masks on public transport without causing real problems for some people who are dependent on it.”
The hospitality sector, in particular, is eager for updates on legislation surrounding table service, social distancing and scanning QR codes.
Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said that the removal of such measures would be a “huge sigh of relief” for the sector.
The PM is expected to address the press tonight at 5pm.
Featured image: No 10 / Flickr