Boris Johnson is today set to reveal his plans for the lifting lockdown of restrictions on 19th July. Freedom Day, as it has become known, was initially scheduled for 21st June, with rising Covid cases driven by the Delta variant meaning it couldn't go ahead.
According to sources, the Prime Minister is determined to scrap the remaining Covid rules in two weeks despite a backlash from government scientific advisors. With the Delta variant resulting in cases rising to their highest levels since January this year, government advisors have warned against going ahead with the complete lifting of restrictions. Some have said that reopening the country at this stage could lead to the creation of new ‘variant factories.’
Despite these stark warnings, Mr Johnson seems determined to press ahead with the reopening and will reveal his plans at a press conference later today. The decision to scrap the rules comes on the back of data that shows 86% of adults in the UK have had at least one Covid jab. This will not stop the spread of Covid but will result in much milder symptoms and far fewer hospitalisations and deaths.
Making their own decisions
Since the introduction of restrictions over a year ago, there has been a considerable backlash from many, with some claiming the government is trying to exercise control and take away fundamental freedoms.
The Prime Minister is set to announce it will now be up to individuals to decide what they want to do to protect themselves. He is expected to announce wearing face masks in most indoor public places and public transport will no longer be mandatory but will be guidance. It will then be up to individuals to decide what they wish to do.
Some of the changes set to take place
There will be several fundamental changes that will take place on Freedom Day. The legal requirement to wear a face mask being scrapped is one of the main ones that will affect most people. Another key change is the ability for fully vaccinated travellers to visit amber list countries without having to quarantine upon return.
Adults who have been fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who has the infection. This will aid many businesses such as retailers that were struggling with staff because of people constantly being off work due to self-isolation.
Many of the changes after Freedom Day will positively impact the hospitality industry, which has been the hardest hit throughout the pandemic. The scrapping of restrictions means that places such as bars and pubs will no longer have to stick to table service. The one-metre rule will be scrapped, and nightclubs can reopen again after 15 months of being closed.
Finding a way to live with Covid
The new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has already said it is impossible to get rid of Covid and go back to pre-pandemic days. He said the nation – and the world – needed to accept and learn to live with Covid in the same way it has done with flu.
However, despite this, many scientists have expressed concerns about the government’s determination to reopen the country fully despite rising cases and the threat of new variants.