The government has outlined plans to lift the remaining Covid restrictions in England.
Most legal restrictions and guidance in England look set to be removed from 19 July. At a Downing Street briefing, earlier this week, Boris Johnson said the government was looking to “move away from legal restrictions” and would instead allow people “to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus”.
What rules and guidance are expected to be relaxed?
Confirmation of the lifting of restrictions and guidance won’t actually happen until 12 July, when the latest Covid health data will be reviewed. However, the following measures are expected:
Social distancing/face coverings
- no limits on social contact
- 1m-plus rule removed (except in some settings, such as ports of entry and medical settings)
- no legal requirements for face coverings (although their use will still be advised in hospitals, healthcare settings and enclosed, crowded public spaces)
- nightclubs permitted to reopen
- capacity caps on businesses will be lifted
- hospitality businesses will no longer be required to provide table service only
- no limits on numbers at weddings and funerals
- no restrictions on communal worship and singing
- no limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events
- no legal requirements for Covid certificates for any venue or event
Guidance on working from home will also end and limits on named visitors to care homes will be removed.
Symptomatic testing and contact tracing will continue – and it will still remain a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid.
The prime minister said there would be future announcements on removing the need for fully-vaccinated people to self-isolate on return from “amber list” countries.
Meanwhile the education secretary has announced that most Covid restrictions in schools – including “bubbles” – will also come to an end in time for the autumn term in England.
Aren’t Covid cases on the rise?
Yes, and they are expected to continue to rise as restrictions ease.
But, because of the vaccination programme, the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths has been weakened.
Downing Street says hospitalisations, serious illness and deaths will continue, albeit at a much lower level than before vaccinations started.
Mr Johnson told reporters the time between first and second jabs for under-40s would be cut from 12 weeks to eight.