Susanna Reid grills Kwasi Kwarteng on ‘Freedom Day’ delay
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to a Downing Street press conference on Monday to confirm that easing of restrictions on July 19 will go ahead as planned, after Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the matter to MPs in the Commons earlier in the day. Mr Johnson warned the pandemic is “not over” as he told the press conference: “This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family, and we cannot simply revert instantly from Monday, July 19 to life as it was before Covid.” Mr Johnson said he will “stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and social distancing”, but urged some guidance to remain in place.
Face masks and coverings
Masks will become voluntary in all settings, including shops, hospitality and public transport, whereby people will be told to exercise their personal judgment.
Despite the legal requirement on face coverings being lifted, people will be advised that wearing a mask can reduce the risk to themselves and others – for example in crowded public transport.
The Prime Minister said: “Guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so – especially when cases are rising and where you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet in enclosed spaces, such as obviously crowded public transport.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said Sadiq Khan and the head of Transport for London (TfL) wanted Westminster to “retain the requirement for face coverings on public transport”.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted that dropping rules around masks risks “causing real problems for some people who are dependent on it”, adding that the most vulnerable will “be put in a very unfair position”.
All businesses that have had to stay closed – including night clubs – will be able to reopen with no capacity limit.
Mass events, like music events, can start again, while there will no longer be a cap on how many can attend weddings and funerals.
Customers in pubs and bars will be able to order in person as before, rather than through QR codes and apps as they do now.
Businesses will no longer be required to collect customers’ contact tracing details, but may choose to continue doing so if they wish.
The ‘one metre plus’ rule on social distancing will be lifted except for very specific circumstances, such as at a border, where people from red and amber list countries will still be mixing.
A requirement to quarantine after testing positive or coming into contact with an infected individual will remain in place for those not double jabbed.
But as previously confirmed by Mr Javid, those who are fully vaccinated – as well as under 18s in England – will no longer have to self isolate from August 16.
However, individuals must allow two weeks to have passed after their second dose of the Covid vaccine before these rules apply to them.
If someone who has received two vaccines and tests positive for the virus, they will still have to isolate for the required 10 day period.
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Right now, residents are only allowed to have five named visitors, and this limit will be dropped when it comes to July 19.
However, there will continue to be a limit on the number of visits in a single day, and infection control measures will remain in place.
Working from home
The requirement for people to work from home if possible will be dropped on the allotted day.
Asked if there would be a legal right to stay home if someone is concerned about their health, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said the Government was not introducing any new employment rights.
Quarantine free travel and schools
The school bubble system will no longer be enforced in England from August 16.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said children contacted by NHS Test and Trace will only have to self isolate if they test positive.
From the autumn term, teachers who are fully vaccinated can remain in school even when a close contact tests positive for Covid.
Quarantine free travel will resume on July 19 for those who have been fully vaccinated coming back from amber and green list countries.
However, vaccines will have had to be administered more than two weeks ago, and pre departure testing and day two testing measures will remain in place.
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