Boris Johnson Rips Up Covid Restrictions For July 19 'Freedom Day'
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Boris Johnson has set out plans for the final step in the easing of lockdown measures in England.
The Prime Minister confirmed that from 19 July, face masks will no longer be mandatory in enclosed public spaces and the one-metre plus rule will come to an end.
People visiting pubs, restaurants and bars will also no longer be required to use a QR code to sign-in, while nightclubs and theatres will once again be allowed to reopen with full capacity.
Mr Johnson stated that the government plans to allow big events to go ahead without the need for Covid passports - unless businesses decide to do so.
The test, trace and self-isolate system will remain in place, with those who test positive for Covid having to isolate immediately, as will those who are told to do so by the NHS app.
There will, however, be exemptions for people who have received both doses of the Covid vaccine if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
And government guidance to work from home where possible will also end from 19 July.
This represents the last stage of the UK government's roadmap out of lockdown, which was previously delayed from the original date of 21 June after a surge in the number of Covid cases recently.
Mr Johnson explained that part of the reason for the delay was to allow the time to determine the success of the vaccine rollout.
He said: "If we can't reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and the school holidays, we must ask ourselves, 'When will we be able to reopen?'"
The Prime Minister also added that while people will no longer be required by law to wear masks, he will continue to do so when he feels it is necessary.
Despite the excitement surrounding the date, however, some have criticised the timing and the messaging.
Professor Stephen Reicher is a member of the SAGE subcommittee advising on behavioural science.
Speaking to Sky News, he shared his concerns around the government's approach to face masks.
He said: "If we are to do the things that keep us safe, we need good and clear messaging. And I think the moment all the messaging is telling us, well, look, there isn't a problem at all here.
"Indeed, getting rid of all restrictions sends a very clear message that there isn't a problem [with COVID] and that in itself is going to affect behaviour in a major way."
The move has also been criticised by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who urged the government to continue the requirement of face masks on public transport.
He said: "It is important that we continue to follow the science around the extent to which they limit transmission on transport and in busy indoor spaces.
"Evidence shows that the wearing of facemasks gives many Londoners the confidence that they can travel safely on public transport.
"People feeling confident they can travel on our tubes, buses and trains as they get busier will be a vital part of encouraging more people into central London as restrictions are lifted further, and it is something that we will continue to look at closely."