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Freedom Day: What are the new Covid rules from July 19?

·4-min read

Boris Johnson lifted the vast majority of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England on July 19, as the country moved to step four of its coronavirus lockdown roadmap.

However, the prime minister warned cases are set to rise as restrictions – including social distancing and the legal requirement to wear face masks – are removed.

Every adult in the UK should have had the chance to have both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by mid-September, the Government said.

What are the rules on working from home?

People are asked to “gradually” to return to their desks.

The government has said it was not expecting work in offices to be completely back on July 19.

What are the rules on socialising, weddings and funerals?

There are no longer any limits on socialising.

It marked the end of the “rule of six” as well as restrictions on guests at weddings and mourners at funerals.

The “one metre plus” rule on social distancing has been lifted except in specific circumstances such as at the border, where guidance remains to keep passengers from red and amber list countries from mingling with other travellers.

The limit on named care home visitors has been lifted but infection control measures remain in place.

What are the rules on face masks?

Legal requirements to wear face coverings have been lifted from July 19.

However, it is advised people wear face masks in crowded inside spaces such as London Underground trains.

What is happening with school bubbles?

School bubbles have been scrapped.

Only the pupil who tests positive needs to self-isolate.

Weddings in lockdown have faced restrictions (PA Archive)
Weddings in lockdown have faced restrictions (PA Archive)

What about theatres?

Theatres are allowed to open with full stalls again in what was described as a “lifeline” for the industry by Julian Bird, chief executive of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.

In a statement at the time it was confirmed, Mr Bird added: “We welcome today’s confirmation that July 19 will see the lifting of remaining lockdown restrictions – meaning that theatres can open to full audiences for the first time in 16 months.

“This is a lifeline for our industry, essential for the survival of theatres across the country.

“We will be working closely with Government in the coming days on revising the performing arts guidelines, ensuring that our audiences and staff can feel safe and confident in returning.”

Cinderella – Gillian Lynne Theatre (PA Media)
Cinderella – Gillian Lynne Theatre (PA Media)

What about holidays?

From July 19, UK residents arriving from countries on the Government’s amber list no longer have to quarantine at home for 10 days if they have had both jabs.

However holidaymakers returning to England from France will still have to self-isolate even if they are fully vaccinated.

Ministers said this was because of the "persistent presence" in the country of the Beta variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa.

Are festivals going ahead?

Yes. Mass events, including festivals, are allowed from July 19, Mr Johnson announced.

Festivals and concerts have been cancelled for the past 18 months as a result of social distancing restrictions.

Glastonbury Festival 2019 – Day 2 (PA Archive)
Glastonbury Festival 2019 – Day 2 (PA Archive)

Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, welcomed the announcement but called for a Government-backed insurance scheme.

However he said the move had come too late for a number of music festivals.

He added: “We now urge Government to finally act on insurance and announce a Government-backed scheme immediately.

“Insurance remains the key obstacle to planning with confidence and there is no rationale for not implementing such a scheme if the Government’s road map is truly irreversible.”

Can nightclubs open and will I need a vaccine passport?

All remaining businesses are able to reopen, including nightclubs, while capacity caps will be lifted and bars and restaurants are no longer restricted to table service. As it stands, nightclubs are not required by law to enforce social distancing or masks.

For now, the Government is is “urging” - but not demanding - nightclubs to use Covid-status certification. The scheme, which has already been trialled at some events, asks attendees to prove either that they’ve been double-vaccinated, have recently tested negative for Covid, or have natural immunity.

But plans have been revealed to only allow double-vaccinated people into nightclubs by the end of September. The Prime Minister said the restriction would also apply to other venues with “large crowds”.

“I can serve notice now that by the end of September when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we're planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather," Mr Johnson said on July 19. “Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough.”

When are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland out of lockdown?

The changes announced in Downing Street affect England only.

Scotland aims to lift all major restrictions by August 9. Wales is expected to lift most restrictions by August 7.

Households bubbles are set to end in Northern Ireland on July 26.

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