The Prime Minister will announce that most of the legal coronavirus restrictions brought in during the pandemic will end as of July 19, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced.
So what will life look like in England after so-called “freedom day”?
– What measures are going?
It is official: those omnipresent two-metre warning signs can be taken down next week, because social distancing is being scrapped.
The decision paves the way for groups of more than six people from multiple households to hang out indoors, and for nightclubs to get the smoke machines back on.
– Can we all bin our face masks as well?
Legally, yes. But Boris Johnson is set to announce that the Government expects and recommends face coverings to be worn in crowded areas, such as public transport.
– What if the nightclub dance floor is packed – have we got to wear masks then?
No, you can dance with your face on full show.
Instead of mask-wearing in such settings, the Government is recommending that businesses and large events use “certification” as a basis of entry to venues deemed “high risk”, especially when prevalence of coronavirus is high as it is currently.
– Wait a minute, isn’t this what vaccine passports were all about?
Pretty much, except it will not be mandatory, only recommended.
To gain entry to venues choosing to go down the certification route, punters must be able to show proof of having been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior, evidence of a negative lateral flow test in the past two days, or a positive PCR test in the past six months to confirm a level of immunity to Covid-19.
– What about if I just want to go to the pub, will I need a vaccine passport then?
Possibly. The Government is not being prescriptive about what venues fit its description, so it will be up to venue management or landlords themselves to decide whether vaccine passports are necessary to guarantee the safety of staff and patrons.
– Does the fact that people will be required to show proof of a negative test mean NHS Test and Trace will remain in place?
That is right.
And the side-effect of that is that you will still be able to be “pinged” by the contact tracing app and will have to self-isolate if NHS Test and Trace finds you have been in close contact with a positive case.
However, that requirement will be abolished on August 16 for those double jabbed and those who are under the age of 18.
Testing will still be available after July 19, while hotel quarantine will continue to be enforced for those UK residents travelling back from red listed countries.
– If masks and self-isolation are staying, can we at least work from home still?
That will not be the advice coming from Government.
The guidance will be for everyone to return to their workplace, but just not all at once. Downing Street is recommending a gradual return over the summer.
– Why all the caution if we are at the end of the road map?
The Prime Minister is preparing to tell the nation that his tests for unlocking have been met but that the pandemic is not over.
Mr Javid told MPs that – fuelled by the Delta variant, first identified in India, the daily Covid case rate could rise to 100,000 per day, but said the Government is confident that the vaccination programme has “severely weakened” the link between cases, hospital admissions and deaths, meaning the NHS will not be overwhelmed.
Mr Johnson, at a press conference on Monday, will stress that caution and restraint are “more important than ever” as the country transitions from being told how to behave, to being afforded personal responsibility.
– If the pandemic is still raging, what should the clinically vulnerable do?
They will be given fuller advice on Monday or Tuesday, but the crux of the recommendations will be for those in that category to get fully vaccinated, meet others outdoors, meet only with others who have been vaccinated and to check their eligibility for ongoing support schemes.