Freedom Day for England as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions come to an end
Lockdown measures will be lifted today in England despite rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Face coverings are no longer compulsory and mandatory social distancing has been axed as England moves to step 4 on the coronavirus recovery roadmap.
There are now no restrictions on the numbers of people or households that can meet - indoors or out - and nightclubs can re-open.
But it will not be quite back to normal.
The Government said it “expects and recommends” that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded area.
And the rules on self-isolating will remain in places until August 16.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently self isolating following a meeting with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has since tested positive for Covid-19.
Mr Johnson will remain in isolation at Chequers until Monday, July 26.
In a video shared on social media he re-iterated his commitment to Freedom Day taking place on July 19, explaining it was better for it to happen when schools are closed and in the summer.
Despite the official end of restrictions, many businesses will still require both workers and customers to wear masks. That includes supermarket Sainsbury’s and John Lewis and Waitrose.
Face coverings are a condition of travel across London and will still be required at Heathrow Airport.
Minicab hailing app Uber also confirmed last week that face coverings will remain mandatory - for drivers and passengers - on its services after Freedom Day despite them no longer being required by law.
Freedom Day comes as the number of new cases of Covid-19 reported each day in the UK climbed above 50,000 for the first time in six months.
A total of 51,870 cases were reported by the Government on July 16, the highest number since January 15, when 55,761 cases were reported.
The latest total is still some way below the peak of the second wave of the virus, which saw a high of 68,053 cases reported on January 8.
Although face coverings will no longer be required by law, the Office for National Statistics found that the majority of adults will continue to wear masks.
Some 64% of the public said they plan to keep wearing face coverings following the removal of most legal restrictions in England.
More than half of adults (57%) said they were worried about the Government’s plans to lift legal restrictions today, including a fifth who were “very worried”.
Elsewhere, animal charities are asking pet owners to be mindful of how the change in rules could affect animals, be it returning to the office or inviting people into the house.
Wood Green, The Animals Charity tweeted: “It’s important to consider how your dog might cope with changes to their routine.”
For those working from home, 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.
Coronavirus restrictions were initially due to be lifted in June but were pushed back by the Government.
From August 16, those who are fully vaccinated and children will not need to isolate if they come into contact with an infected person.
According to Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) it will take three weeks before the impact of lifting coronavirus restrictions in England is known.