BORIS Johnson has announced a wealth of new freedoms Brits will be able to enjoy from July 19 as the country emerges from lockdown.
Social distancing, working from home and compulsory face masks are among the measures that will be scrapped on ‘Freedom Day’ – here’s everything you can and can’t do in a fortnight.
? Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
The PM announced the measures in a press conference this evening as he told Brits that the country must now live with the virus.
The relaxation of all measures will be confirmed on July 12, once the PM has reviewed the latest data.
There was no confirmation just yet on the scrapping of school bubbles or whether double-jabbed Brits can travel to amber-listed countries or skip self-isolation.
Mr Johnson said that Britain’s vaccine rollout will allow ministers to swap “Government diktats” with the public’s “individual judgement” – but stressed “the pandemic is far from over”.
Here we look at everything you can do in just fourteen days time.
SIX BIG FREEDOMS ANNOUNCED TODAY
Brits will no longer receive a fine if they don’t wear a face covering on public transport, the PM has announced.
Commuters will still be encouraged to wear a mask while on a bus or train – but this will not be legally enforced.
However, businesses will be able to set conditions for their premises – but Brits do not have to wear a face mask by law.
Under current guidance, Brits face fines of up to £6,400 if they don’t wear a face covering on public transport – unless they are medically exempt.
Masks are also compulsory in shops, supermarkets, theatres, libraries, churches, youth and social clubs, hotels and most other indoor settings.
A first offence carries a fine of £200, reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days. The penalty doubles for repeat offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
But ministers will shift the emphasis onto personal responsibility rather than state-enforced rules as the nation emerges from the pandemic.
Boris Johnson said he would wear a mask in crowded places full of strangers but suggested he would not on an empty train carriage late at night.
The PM told the Downing Street press conference: “I will obviously wear a mask in crowded places where you are meeting people that you don’t know, as Chris (Whitty) was saying, to protect others and as a matter of simple courtesy.
“There’s a difference between that, and I think everyone can understand that, and circumstances where you might find yourselves sitting alone for hours late at night on a train with no one else in the compartment and there I think people should be entitled to exercise some discretion.”
Boris Johnson has announced a host of new freedoms at the press conferenceCredit: Getty
SOCIAL DISTANCING SCRAPPED
The one-metre-plus social distancing rule will be scrapped on July 19 in a huge boost for the hospitality industry, Mr Johnson has announced.
There will be no limits on how many people can meet socially, or where they can meet. This applies to weddings, funerals and other life events.
Punters will finally be allowed to mingle and stand once again, while ordering from the bar will also be permitted.
It comes as a huge boost to the hospitality industry, which has struggled to make a profit with limited capacity allowed indoors due to social distancing regulations.
The PM tonight acknowledged that scrapping the rules was a risk, but said: “If we don’t go ahead now, when the summer fire break is coming up, the school holidays, all the advantages, that that should give us in fighting the virus, the question is, when will we go ahead?”
Brits will no longer receive a fine if they don’t wear a face covering on public transportCredit: LNP
NO MORE QR CODES
Punters will no longer need to check in to venues by scanning a QR code using the Test and Trace app, it was confirmed tonight.
There will no longer be a legal requirement for Covid certification for any setting – though businesses will be permitted to continue to use the app if they wish to do so.
It came after complaints from hospitality bosses that the app is leading to staff shortages as increasing number of employees are “pinged” and told to self-isolate.
BACK TO THE OFFICE
Brits will be heading back to the office from July 19 after months of remote working, the PM announced.
Current guidance states that employees who can work from home must do so – despite swathes of the economy being open.
But the rules will change from July 19 to allow firms to tell employees how and where they should work.
The move comes as a boost for city centres, with many businesses seeing a plunge in revenue due to the lack of commuters.
Brits will be heading back to the office later this month as restrictions are eased (Stock image)Credit: Alamy
RULE OF SIX SCRAPPED
The Rule of Six will finally be scrapped in a huge boost for the hospitality industry.
Groups of more than 30 people will also be allowed to meet up as limits on large gatherings are eased, Mr Johnson announced.
FESTIVALS BACK ON
Mass events, including festivals, will also be allowed from July 19, the PM said tonight.
Festivals and concerts have been cancelled for the past 18 months as a result of social distancing restrictions.
But mass events outdoors, such as full stadiums and festivals, are expected to get the go-ahead but with some element of testing or proof of vaccination required.
THREE BIG FREEDOMS TO BE CONFIRMED LATER…
DOUBLE-JABBED BRITS CAN SKIP QUARANTINE
Plans for double-jabbed Brits to be able to skip quarantine when travelling back from amber-listed countries were not announced tonight, with formal guidance expected this week.
Under current guidance, anyone returning from an amber-listed country – including holiday hotspots such as Spain and Greece – must self-isolate for ten days when they return to the UK.
Ministers are currently working on plans to allow anyone who is double-vaccinated to skip self-isolation with a rigorous daily testing regime – but this is not expected to be unveiled this evening.
Travel guidance for those who are double-jabbed is expected to be updated later this week.
NO MORE SCHOOL BUBBLES
There was no announcement this evening on when school bubbles will be scrapped.
However, the school bubble system is still expected to be shelved and replaced by daily testing.
Mr Johnson is set to announce that kids will no longer have to miss school if a student in their bubble has Covid.
Those deemed close contacts will have to take lateral flow tests instead.
SELF-ISOLATION SCRAPPED FOR DOUBLE-JABBED BRITS
But after a successful pilot scheme running since April, ministers are set to replace that rule for the fully vaccinated with 20-minute lateral flow tests taken each day for the same amount of time.
However, the cabinet is still signing off the plans – with no announcement tonight.
If you present a negative result, you would be free to leave the house that day.
It comes after businesses complained that the number of staff being “pinged” by the app and told to self-isolate was causing staff shortages.
Last week, around 400,000 people were told to self-isolate by Test and Trace staff or the NHS Covid-19 App.
Plans will also soon be revealed let fully-vaccinated passengers returning from abroad duck quarantine.
The PM hailed the vaccine rollout as the key clincher allowing him to take off the restraints.
His spokesperson said today: The delay to step four has allowed our vaccination programme to save thousans more lives by vaccinating millions more people.
“As a result, the data shows the link between cases and hospitalizations has been severely weakened but not broken.
“We know that cases will continue to rise as society opens up further. This means that hospitalisation serious illness and deaths from Coronavirus will continue, albeit at a much lower level than before the vaccination.”