Yesterday (Monday, July 5) Boris Johnson announced the next step of the government roadmap, which is planned for Monday, July 19, which has been long referred to as ‘freedom day.’Advertisement
The easing of restrictions will see the vast majority of legal restrictions taken away in England.
The government will be changing their stance from state-imposed restrictions, to allowing people to take personal responsibility, meaning individuals will be able to act freely.
This is causing concern, however, that this could lead to significant outbreaks of the virus.
The government is also accelerating the vaccination programme for those under 40, reducing the 12-week gap between both doses to eight.
This means that all adults should have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by mid-September.
There will be many changes made in step four of the roadmap. Here is what will change:
How many people can I see?
Limits on social contact are set to end in England, meaning people can meet inside or outside with as many people as they are comfortable to see.
This means there will no longer by any restrictions on the number of guests at weddings and mourners at funerals.
Large scale events, such as festivals or large sporting events, will no longer require certification to go ahead.
Limits will also be lifted from businesses, meaning clubs can reopen and theatres and cinemas can return to normal capacities.
People will not need to prove their Covid status (i.e. whether they’ve had the vaccine, or to prove they’re currently negative for Covid) but the prime minister said firms can choose to use the Covid status certification system.
Will I still need to social distance?
Rules on social distancing will also be weakened in step four with the ‘one metre plus’ rule being scrapped entirely as England unlocks.
Like many other parts of the government’s plans, however, some guidance will remain in place of the legal restrictions.
Social-distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green-list areas.
Do I still need to wear a face covering?
Under present rules, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse, the government says face masks should be worn in England in many indoor settings such as on public transport and in shops.
In a move that has led to criticism from some government advisors there will be no legal requirements to wear face coverings in step four.
This does not mean that face coverings will disappear as they will still be advised in hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.
There are also questions about whether individual organisations will continue to enforce mask wearing – for example, airline Ryanair have said masks will be mandatory on all flights, even after lockdown easing.
Can I still work from home?
It is down to employers to decide whether they want people to work from home or in the office, but the government has said employers are able to plan the safe return of staff to the workplace.
The work from home if you can messaging from the government will end, though.
Will I still need to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid-19?
Yes. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will still need to share details of their close contacts with NHS Test and Trace.
If you have been in close with contact who tests positive and are contacted by NHS Test and Trace by text, email or phone call, you will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
Your isolation period includes the date of your last contact with the infected person and the next 10 full days. Failure to self-isolate can result in a fine, starting from £1,000.
If you don’t have symptoms, people you live with do not need to self-isolate with you.
If you do have symptoms, other people you live with must self-isolate for 10 days too and, you must get a Covid test.
Your household can also get a test, even if they do not have symptoms. You and your household’s isolation period includes the day your symptoms started and the next 10 full days.
There are more details about this on the government website.
What about visiting care homes?
From June 21, every care home resident was allowed to nominate up to five ‘named visitors’ who could enter the home for regular visits, and residents can have no more than two visitors at a time or over the course of one day, but the government is now going one step further lifting the limits completely on care home visits.
Is anything changing in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland?
The changes to Covid rules, announced by the prime minister, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.
The Welsh Government ‘would like to move together’ with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is ‘right for Wales.’
The Scottish government delayed further wide-scale reopening to July 19 when they have planned for all areas to move to level 0.
They are aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.
In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased from Monday including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.
Regulations will be reviewed on or before July 8.
What’s missing from the rule changes?
Long awaited clarity on holidays, isolation and the future of measures in schools were missing from the prime minister’s announcements on Monday.
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