The day the masks came off! Monday, July 19 will go down in history as the day England took back their power to roam freely without masks or restrictions. Good or bad, the country is attempting to reach herd immunity and this is the first step to get there.
Dubbed Freedom Day, face masks are no longer mandatory in England and residents are allowed to remove their masks and move freely in public places, shops and restaurants. There is no longer a limit on gatherings and workers can return to the office is they prefer because work from home is no longer enforced.
The vaccine rollout has reduced the death rate dramatically and has proven to be effective in bringing down the infection rate in the country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced serious backlash from many calling his move to lift restrictions ‘careless’ and ‘irresponsible’.
Johnson has, however, urged citizens to exercise their new freedom with the utmost caution because coronavirus is not over. With rules governing the UK for 15 months, it is not easy for locals to revert to the way things used to be before the pandemic.
Social-distancing has become a way of life for most, and many are still reeling from losing loved ones during the destructive waves of the virus.
Removing restrictions is expected to bring a massive boost to the hospitality industry – which has already seen a 36% growth at the end of June.
- Face masks are now voluntary in all settings, including shops, hospitality and public transport.
- Social distancing/hospitality has been scrapped, so all businesses that had been closed – including nightclubs – are now able to reopen in England, with no limits on capacity.
- A requirement to self-isolate after testing positive or after coming into contact with an infected person remains in place. Those who are double-jabbed – as well as under-18s in England – will no longer have to isolate if they have come into close contact with COVID from 16 August.
- The limit on visitor numbers in care homes has been dropped but residents (or their family if they are unable to make decisions) should choose named visitors, which cannot be changed.
- The requirement for people to work from home if possible has been dropped.
- The school bubble system will be scrapped in England from 16 August.
- UK residents who are fully vaccinated (14 days since their final dose) no longer have to isolate when returning to England from green or amber list countries.