The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke to the nation and confirmed that the vaccines have significantly weakened the link between coronavirus cases and hospitalisations and deaths. This has allowed the government to confirm that many COVID restrictions will be lifted in England on 19 July, known as Freedom Day.
The main changes will see an end to social distancing, facemasks will no longer be mandatory, and the opening of all venues currently closed with no capacity limits. The Prime Minister stressed that whilst many official restrictions will be removed it is expected that we will exercise our own personal judgement regarding precautions we should continue to take.
The press release from the Prime Minister’s office stated:
'Limits on social contact will end, meaning there will be no restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings. Weddings, funerals and other life events able to take place without limits or restrictions.
All venues currently closed will be allowed to reopen, including nightclubs, and there will be no legal requirement for table service in hospitality settings.
Face coverings will no longer be legally required in shops, schools, hospitality, or on public transport although guidance will be in place to suggest where people might choose to wear one, such as where you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet in enclosed and crowded places.'
There are also expected to be changes to the requirement for fully vaccinated people to have to self-isolate if they are identified as having been in contact with someone who tested positive.
Relaxing restrictions as case numbers continue to climb is no doubt a risky move. It will be interesting to see if the public accept personal responsibility in dealing with the pandemic or if restrictions will need to be reintroduced at some future date.