Prime Minister confirms lockdown easing plans in England, with mask-wearing and one-metre plus rule set to go
The Prime Minister has confirmed most coronavirus restrictions will end in England later this month.
Social distancing, working from home and mask wearing are among the measures to be scrapped in the next stage of lockdown easing in England, expected to happen on July 19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a number of restrictions are to be eased in step four of the road map to lifting lockdown during a news conference at Downing Street.
He also confirmed all businesses – including nightclubs – will be allowed to reopen with no limit on the number of people attending concerts, theatres and sport events.
Mr Johnson told the Downing Street press conference: “We will remove all legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors.
“We will allow all businesses to reopen including nightclubs.
“We will lift the limit on named visitors to care homes and the numbers of people attending concerts, theatre and sports events.
“We will end the one metre-plus rule on social distancing and the legal obligation to wear a face covering although 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 normally meet in enclosed places such as obviously crowded public transport.
“It will no longer be necessary for Government to instruct people to work from home so employers will be able to start planning a safe return to the workplace.”
During the press conference, Mr Johnson also announced that the gap between coronavirus vaccine doses for the under-40s will be reduced from 12 weeks to eight in an acceleration of the rollout to allow all adults to be offered both jabs by mid-September.
He also said the Government is working with the travel industry on plans to remove the need for fully-vaccinated people arriving from amber list countries to self-isolate.
However, the PM also warned that the pandemic was “far from over” with cases rising “fairly rapidly”.
“There could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th,” he said.
“We are seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid.
He added: “We have to balance the risks. The risks of the disease which the vaccines have reduced but very far from eliminated and the risks of continuing with legally-enforced restrictions that inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods, on people’s health and mental health.
“We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves: when will we be able to return to normal?”
The press conference happened at the same time as Health Secretary Sajid Javid was updating MPs in Parliament on the plans.
The simultaneous announcements came after Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle met with Johnson last month to raise issue with the fact statements about lockdown changes were being made to the press before MPs were told in the House of Commons.
During his address to MPs, Mr Javid said that the Government is considering whether to give a booster vaccine for coronavirus along with the flu jab over the winter, with the most vulnerable set to be offered a third dose from September.