Covid restrictions Sheffield: What is 'Freedom Day', what has Boris Johnson said about July 19 and will we still have to wear a mask?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline the Covid-19 restrictions which are set to lift on July 19 later today.
The Government has earmarked July 19 as ‘Freedom Day’, with its roadmap out of lockdown set to come to an end and current restrictions expected to be lifted.
‘Step 4’ of the roadmap – the last step – was meant to come into force on June 21 however this was delayed due to an increase in cases and the spread of the Delta variant.
Last week Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was confident that July 19 would still be the day that Step 4 came into force. The Government’s official testing for whether or not restrictions can lift will not be complete until next week, but Boris Johnson is set to outline the plans this afternoon ahead of the announcement next week.
Here’s everything we know so far.
What is ‘Freedom Day’?
Freedom Day is the name the Government has given to the day that lockdown rules are set to end in England, which at the moment is set to happen on July 19. It will mark Step 4 of the roadmap out of Covid restrictions.
What restrictions will be lifted?
All Covid restrictions are expected to lift on Freedom Day, including two metre social distancing rules – although it is not yet known whether the Government will still advise on adhering to this, even if it is no longer the case in law. Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, customers will be able to order from the bar once again and the Prime Minister is expected to say that wearing a mask will become a personal choice rather than compulsory – however there has been some backlash against this idea, with London mayor Sadiq Khan calling for mask-wearing to be kept in place on public transport.
The rule of six inside bars and restaurants will be scrapped and large-scale events including music festivals will be able to go ahead once again. Working from home rules are also set to be dropped – meaning many people may be allowed back into the office for the first time in 16 months – and travel out of England could become unrestricted, although the Prime Minister has warned of a summer of “hassle and delays” even if this is the case. Other countries may still have their own Covid rules and restrictions in place.
What are the tests the Government needs to complete in order to lift restrictions?
There are four tests the Government has put in place to decide whether things can open up again on July 19. These include an effective vaccine programme, evidence the vaccinations are working, manageable infection rates and the low risk of any new variants. The Government is hoping to ensure that two thirds of all adults have had a second dose of the vaccine by July 19 in order to lift the restrictions, but it will not know whether all of its tests have been met until next week, July 12, when the official announcement on the date of lifting the lockdown will be made.
What is Boris Johnson expected to say?
Mr Johnson is expected to tell the nation that Covid is now something we must live with and that he is confident the next step will go ahead as planned, with more emphasis placed on personal responsbility and people ensuring they have had the vaccine.