All legal restrictions in England such as masks and social distancing will be ditched on July 19, if the ministers give a final go-ahead on July 12, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The so-called “freedom day,” which was originally due on June 21, is the last stage of Johnson’s four-step road map out of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdown.
Johnson said the government is changing “the basic tools” it uses to “control human behavior.”
“We’ll move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus,” he said during a televised briefing.
Unless the ministers decide otherwise next week, all businesses, including nightclubs, will be allowed to reopen from July 19; it’ll “no longer be necessary” for the government to instruct people to work from home; and legal restrictions on the number of people meeting each other, visiting care homes, or attending concerts, theaters, and sports events will be lifted.
Legal requirements on social distancing and mask wearing will be scrapped and replaced with guidance that will “suggest where you might choose to do so.”
There will be no mandatory domestic COVID certificates, but businesses and events can choose to require them.
Johnson said the government will “do everything possible to avoid reimposing restrictions with all the costs that they bring.”
The removal of the legal restrictions is a part of Johnson’s “five-point plan for living with COVID.” Other points of the plan include reinforcing CCP virus vaccination roll-out; a test, trace, and isolate system; maintaining “tough” border control; as well as monitoring relevant data and retaining contingency measures.
Johnson said people will still “have to self-isolate” if they test positive for the CCP virus or are told to isolate by the National Health Service’s test and trace app, adding that a “different regime” may apply for “fully vaccinated” people and children who come into contact with those testing positive.
Self-isolating rules may also be scrapped for international arrivals if they had received two doses of a CCP virus vaccine.
Johnson said the number of hospitalisations and deaths will rise, but it’s time to “take a careful and a balanced decision” because of the “continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.”
A slide (pdf) shown at the briefing showed that the number of CCP virus cases has increased sharply in June, but while the number of hospitalisations has a slight uptick, the number of COVID-19-related deaths barely increased, according to official figures.
Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said the data suggests the CCP virus vaccines have “weakened” but haven’t “completely broken” the link between cases and hospitalizations.
Asked if the UK will make vaccines available for children, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation needs to have “greater confidence about the safety” of the vaccines because COVID-19 has little effect on children, and that they are waiting for data to come from “other nations which are getting a little ahead of the UK in terms of vaccinating children.”
Regulators around the world have so far maintained that the benefit of getting CCP virus vaccines for adults outweighs the risk, but there have been concerns over side effects that are yet to be studied and the lack of long-term safety data of the vaccines, such as data on reproductive safety.