LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Monday for the final step in easing England’s COVID-19 lockdown, including the removal of laws governing social distancing and face coverings, and an end to official advice to work from home.
Johnson said he expected the lifting of restrictions to go ahead on July 19. He said a final decision would be announced on July 12. Some elements, including education and travel policy, will be announced later this week.
Here’s the plan:
FACEMASKS – Regulations mandating facemasks will be lifted. The government will continue to recommend certain circumstances where they may be worn, but this will be a personal choice.
Transport providers can still choose to insist on masks, if they decide to.
SOCIAL DISTANCING – 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. It also includes care homes, although enhanced infection control measures will apply.
There will be no further rules dictating people maintain at least one metre apart.
HOSPITALITY – There will be no limits on capacity at hospitality venues, or a requirement to provide table service. Nightclubs and other businesses previously subject to forced closure, will now be able to open.
TRAVEL – The government will work with the transport industry to allow fully-vaccinated individuals to return from amber-list countries without quarantining.
LARGE EVENTS – There will be no restrictions on the number of people who can attend large events like sports matches and concerts.
VACCINATION – To speed up the vaccine rollout, the dosing interval for those aged under 40 will be reduced to 8 weeks from 12 weeks.
WORK FROM HOME – People will no longer be instructed to work from home. It will be up to individual employers to decide the pace of employees’ return.
The government will ditch rules for employers on how to make their premises ‘COVID secure’, replacing it with a lighter touch set of guidelines.
TESTING – The government’s testing system for those with COVID-19 symptoms will continue. Free asymptomatic testing will be available until September.
SELF ISOLATING – It will still be a legal requirement to self isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 or when instructed to by the government’s test and trace system.
However, the government intends to exempt those who have had two vaccine doses from the need to self isolate if they have been identified as a contact of someone with COVID.
SELF CERTIFICATION – The government has decided not to pursue a legally-enforced system of COVID status certification.
(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)