Boris Johnson announcement latest – Covid mask & work from home rules WILL finish on July 19 'Freedom Day', PM confirms

BORIS Johnson made a major covid rules announcement this evening, outlining the ways in which the UK can get its freedom back.

The Prime Minister said that from July 19, covid face mask rules will be scrapped, with the UK switching to a voluntary system as we learn to live with covid as a simple fact of life.

However local councils and public transport providers may still insist upon masks being worn with the threat of fines for anybody who doesn't.

Pubs can return to normal with social distancing measures and enforced table service ditched, although individual pubs may well choose to keep their capacity smaller and stick with apps and table service for orders.

And the Government's order to work from home where you can will also be axed – but again, many offices are predicted to opt for flexible working in the future after proving popular and successful during lockdown.

The July 19 rule changes which come as covid infection rates soar in the UK but, crucially, hospitalisations remain low thanks to our brilliant vaccines rollout which has broken the link between infections and deaths

Read our live blog below for the latest lockdown updates…

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    SLIDE: THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID IN THE UK

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    MILLION OF VACCINES ROLLED OUT TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM COVID, SAYS BORIS AS HE HAILS RETURN TO NORMAL LIFE

    Millions of vaccines have been rolled out across the UK to protect people from Covid and the Prime Minister announced this evening that everyone under 40 could now get their second jab eight weeks after their first.

    The PM said the aim is that "everyone over 18 should be double jabbed by the middle of September".

    He said this is on top of the autumn programme of booster jabs for the most vulnerable.

    Mr Johnson said this evening: "We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus."

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    DATA SLIDE: NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN UK HOSPITALS WITH COVID

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    ROUND UP: THE KEY POINTS FROM BORIS' RESTRICTIONS ANNOUNCEMENT

    • Boris Johnson FINALLY lifts lockdown from July 19 but urges public to be cautious and ‘think of others’
    • Festivals and full stadiums to return after July 19 as Boris Johnson lifts Covid restrictions on mass events
    • Covid restrictions ‘not needed in winter as Britain “well prepared” to leave lockdown with booster jab plan’
    • UK daily Covid cases more than double in just two weeks – but only nine deaths are recorded ahead of July 19 unlock

    GRAPHIC: UK COVID-19 CASES AND DEATHS PER DAY

    UNION CALLS FOR FACE COVERINGS TO REMAIN MANDATORY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT

    Face coverings should remain compulsory on public transport after the end of the Government’s road map out of lockdown, a trade union has claimed.

    Unite, represents tens of thousands of public transport workers, claimed it would be “gross negligence” to end the requirement on July 19.

    Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday that face coverings will no longer be required in many situations from the so-called freedom day.

    Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said: “To end the requirement to wear masks on public transport would be an act of gross negligence by the Government.

    “Rates of infection are continuing to increase and not only does mask wearing reduce transmissions, it helps provide reassurance to drivers and to passengers who are nervous about using public transport.

    “The idea of personal responsibility and hoping that people will wear masks is absolutely ridiculous.”

    DOWNING STREET PRESS CONFERENCE FINISHES

    The press conference has now finished.

    The Prime Minister unveiled the plan to relax all Covid restrictions after Step 4 of his roadmap to freedom.

    This is still on course to take place as planned on July 19.

    TESTING WILL REPLACE ISOLATION AMONG SCHOOLS, SUGGESTS PM

    The Prime Minister says the damage to children's education is "a really good point" and the Government is doing what it can to minimise that. 

    He says parents want a "different approach" to outbreaks in schools, adding: "The way forward is by testing rather than sending the bubbles home."

    PM DODGES MEDIA REQUEST FOR NUMBER OF EXCESS DEATHS EXPECTED AFTER RESTRICTIONS ARE LIFTED

    The prime minister avoids a question on giving a figure on how many excess deaths will arise form the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions.

    The OPM advises Brits to support the football team responsibly.

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      LIMIT ON NAMED VISITORS FOR CARE HOME RESIDENTS TO BE LIFTED AT STEP 4 – PM

      The limit on how many named visitors a care home resident can receive will be lifted at the final stage of the road map out of lockdown, but some protective measures will remain, the Government has said.

      Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that the limit on named visitors will be lifted when Step 4 is reached, on what has been widely dubbed freedom day.

      Number 10 said infection control measures will remain in place to protect residents.

      Step 4 is due to begin on July 19 if the Government's "four tests" for easing restrictions have been met.

      Currently, residents in England are able to receive visits from up to five named relatives and friends, with a maximum of two visitors at any one time or day.

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      NURSES WORRIED THAT SCRAPPING OF COVID RULES WILL PUT 'IMMENSE PRESSURE' ON NHS

      Nurses whose work was celebrated at a St Paul's service marking the 73rd anniversary of the NHS have said they are worried that the final lifting of coronavirus restrictions will put "immense pressure" on the health service.

      Luki Obro, 40, a dementia nurse at Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust, has said she was "honoured" to have been invited to the ceremony, but like many others was worried about the rules being scrapped.

      The Prime Minister, who also attended the celebration along with the Duke of Cambridge and hundreds of NHS frontline staff, is expected to confirm on Monday evening that all coronavirus rules in England will be lifted on July 19.

      Ms Obro, 40, originally from Sierra Leone, said: "I think it is going to put immense pressure on the NHS definitely, and I think the virus is going to spread and knowing that winter is coming…

      "I will continue wearing a mask and most of my colleagues also will do the same."

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      PM WARNS PUBLIC NOT TO GET 'DEMOB HAPPY'

      The Prime Minister says "with great respect", you can't say he is being "both incautious and banning irreversibility". 

      He says they are moving from a system of "very elaborate rules" to one of personal responsibility "mindful that this pandemic is far from over". 

      He adds: "I am asking people to think in this way – this is not the moment to get demob happy.

      "This is very far from dealing with the end of this virus". 

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      PEOPLE WANT TO KEEP FACE MASKS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND IN SHOPS, POLL SUGGESTS

      The majority of people want face masks to remain compulsory on public transport and in shops beyond this month, a poll has suggested.

      Seven in every 10 people (71%) agreed that face masks should continue to be mandatory on public transport for a further period of time once restrictions are lifted, according to the YouGuv survey of 2,749 British adults.

      Roughly one in five (21%) said masks should not be compulsory.

      The survey also found that 66% of those polled said face masks should continue to be mandatory in shops and some enclosed public places – while 27% disagreed.

      It came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at a press conference that all legal coronavirus restrictions including mask-wearing, social distancing and nightclub closures will end at Step 4 of the Government's plan to ease England's lockdown, which is expected to be on July 19.

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      AIM IS FOR EVERYONE OVER 18 SHOULD BE DOUBLE-JABBED BY MID SEPTEMBER SAYS PM

      The aim is that "everyone over 18 should be double jabbed by the middle of September", according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

      He said this is in addition to the autumn programme of booster jabs for the most vulnerable.

      He told a Downing Street press conference: "We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus."

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      PM OUTLINES A NUMBER OF RESTRICTIONS TO BE EASED ON JULY 19

      Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a number of restrictions are to be eased.

      He told a 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."

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      CHRIS WHITTY: THIS COMING WINTER MAY BE DIFFICULT FOR THE NHS

      This coming winter may be difficult for the NHS says Chris Whitty.

      He says he believes this statement iswholly justifiable and "not controversial".

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      PATRICK VALLANCE SAYS 'DEATHS ARE INCREASING' – AND IT 'WILL CONTINUE'

      Sir Patrick Vallance said that "deaths are increasing" and "we would expect that to continue" as Covid cases rise, as he said people must "behave accordingly in terms of trying to limit transmission".

      The chief scientific adviser said that infections are "going up" and that "the link between cases and hospitalisations and cases and deaths is weakened but not completely broken, and we would expect to see some further increase".

      He told the Downing Street press conference that "we are in the face of an increasing epidemic at the moment and therefore we need to behave accordingly in terms of trying to limit transmission".

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      JOHNSON TO 'TRUST PUBLIC'S JUDGEMENT' AS PEOPLE LEARN TO LIVE WITH CORONAVIRUS

      Scientists and medical experts have urged caution as Boris Johnson prepares to tear up England's coronavirus rules on July 19.

      The Prime Minister will tell people that it will be left to their judgment how to reduce the risk posed by the virus, rather than expecting the Government to set out restrictions in law.

      The approach is expected to mean that from "freedom day" in a fortnight's time, face masks will no longer be required in many settings and social distancing restrictions will be removed in pubs and restaurants.

      Mr Johnson, who will give further details at a press conference on Monday afternoon, said: "As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgment when going about our lives."

      The Prime Minister is widely expected to announce the end of the one metre-plus rule in hospitality venues while the work-from-home order is expected to be dropped.

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      'WE WILL ALLOW PEOPLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN INFORMED DECISIONS' SAYS PM

      The PM said: "We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus."

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      AIRLINE PASSENGERS WILL STILL HAVE TO WEAR MASKS EVEN IF LAW CHANGES

      Several airlines will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings even if the Government drops the legal requirement to do so.

      Ryanair said it will not change its current policy, while the PA news agency understands that easyJet is also not planning to ease its rules.

      Train operators have pledged to "support" passengers who continue wearing face coverings if they become voluntary.

      Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday that face coverings will no longer be required in many settings in England from the final step of the Government's road map out of lockdown, due to take place on July 19.

      A spokeswoman for Ryanair said face coverings "will still be mandatory across all Ryanair flights, regardless of the departing/destination country".

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      SPORTS STADIUMS IN ENGLAND SET TO RETURN TO FULL CAPACITY FROM JULY 19

      Sports venues in England are set to return to full capacity from July 19 after the Government announced plans to ease the remaining restrictions on social distancing.

      Crowds have either been kept out entirely or allowed in severely restricted numbers since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK in March last year. Test events with higher attendances have been held as part of a Government programme since April.

      However, the Government is confident that the success of the vaccine rollout has helped to break the link between rates of infections and rates of hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19.

      A final decision on whether to lift the remaining restrictions in England on July 19 will be taken next Monday, but the intention is for stadiums to operate at full capacity from that date.

      Recent test events have trialled the use of Covid certification – where spectators must provide proof of either full vaccination, a recent negative test or existing immunity – but these so-called 'vaccine passports' will not now be compulsory for entry.

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      BORIS JOHNSON: WE MUST BALANCE THE RISK OF THE DISEASE AND CAUSING HARM WITH LEGAL RESTRICTIONS

      Boris Johnson said we must "balance the risk" of the disease from the virus and the harm from continuing with legal restrictions which "inevitably take their toll on people's lives and livelihoods, on people's health and mental health".

      He added: "And 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?'

      "And to those who say we should delay again – the alternative to that is to open up in winter when the virus will have an advantage, or not at all this year."

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      JCVI STILL ASSESSING IF CHILDREN SHOULD GET COVID VACCINES – CHRIS WHITTY

      "For any vaccine, you want to be confident that the benefits outweigh any risks," says Professor Whitty in response to question from the public.

      "Because children have had much lower rates of severe outcomes from Covid… we would need to have even greater confidence about the safety."

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      ALL COVID RESTRICTIONS WILL END ST STEP 4 OF ROADMAP, CONFIRMS THE PM

      Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that all legal coronavirus restrictions including mask-wearing, social distancing and nightclub closures will end at Step 4 of the Government's plan to ease England's lockdown, which is expected to be on July 19.

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      THE PANDEMIC IS FAR FROM OVER, WARNS BORIS JOHNSON

      Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pandemic is "far from over" and will not be over by July 19, with a potential 50,000 cases detected a day by that date.

      He told the Downing Street press conference: "We're seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.

      "In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there's only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we'd normally be locking down further, and that's because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout."

      He said the expectation remains that by July 19 every adult in the UK will have had the offer of a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and two-thirds will have had a second dose.

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