England has officially entered its lockdown easing
London — The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson has urged to people to exercise their new freedoms with caution as most mandatory coronavirus restrictions in England are finally lifted.
Face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport, limits on gathering have gone and the work from home guidance has ended.
It is official: social distancing limits are largely over, with no more “ rule of six ” and “one metre plus” restrictions.
Groups of more than six people from multiple households will be able to hang out indoors and outdoors.
Businesses will reopen, including shuttered nightclubs who can welcome party-goers back to dance floors.
Legal limits on mourners at funerals and those celebrating weddings will also end, as will school bubbles.
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Can we all throw away our face masks too?
It is complicated. Legally, face coverings will mostly no longer be mandatory in indoor settings.
But the Government says it “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces.
This could include using public transport or mixing with people you do not normally meet.
The official message is one of “personal responsibility” and “informed choice”.
So where will face masks still be needed?
In London, Sadiq Khan has said they will still be compulsory on the capital’s transport network.
Passengers in bus stations operated by combined authorities West and South Yorkshire, on the North East’s Metro and Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services will also be required to wear them under local rules.
Supermarket chains – including Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – will encourage customers to keep masks on.
Are large events back on?
Yes. From Monday people can begin enjoying concerts, theatre and sports events once again.
The Government recommends businesses use “certification” as a basis of entry to venues deemed “high risk”.
Is this connected to talk of ‘vaccine passports’?
In a sense, except action from businesses will not be mandatory, only recommended.
Organisations are being encouraged to use the NHS Covid Pass – that gives details of someone’s vaccination or test result status and featured in large event trials – to help limit the risk of infection.
What about if I just want to go to the pub, will I need a pass then?
Possibly. The Government is not being prescriptive about what venues could use the system, so it will be up to venue management or landlords themselves to decide if it will be necessary to guarantee the safety of staff and patrons.
Table service is recommended to continue in bars.
Pub group JD Wetherspoon has said it will relax its face mask and table service rules for customers but will still encourage the use of its app for ordering.
What about Test and Trace? Could I still be pinged?
Yes – positive Covid cases and their contacts identified by NHS Test and Trace will still be legally required to self-isolate.
But amid what some have dubbed a “pingdemic”, businesses and unions have warned that Monday could become “chaos day” due to staff shortages triggered by workers having to self-isolate.
The self-isolation requirement will be abolished for contacts of positive cases for under 18s and for double vaccinated adults from August 16.
Testing will still be available after July 19, while hotel quarantine will continue to be enforced for those UK residents travelling back from red listed countries.