ENGLAND will lift Covid-19 restrictions including the compulsory wearing of face masks by July 19, Boris Johnson has said. 

The Prime Minister made the announcement this evening during a press conference at 10 Downing Street. 

Other rules that will be eased include ending 1m-plus social distancing and QR code sign-ins at restaurants.

The PM said that the UK government's plan moving forward will be to "balance the risks" of the virus and impact of restrictions on people's livelihoods and health. 

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However, the PM acknowledged the pandemic was “far from over” with cases rising “fairly rapidly”, and that "we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid". 

Johnson said the UK could see 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th.

Despite this, Johnson announced a five point plan for "living with Covid". 

Firstly, they will "reinforce the vaccine wall", reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to eight weeks, with an autumn programme of booster vaccines for the vulnerable.

Secondly, changing the "basic tools to control human behaviour" - the UK government will move away from legal restrictions.

This would mean no legal limits on the number of people meeting indoors and outdoors, all businesses, including nightclubs, will be allowed to open and there will be no limits on the number care home visitors.

The National:

The legal obligation on wearing face coverings will be removed, but with an advisory put in place for areas such as public transport.

The work from home order will also be lifted, and no covid status certificate will required for entry to events.

The “one metre plus” rule on social distancing will be lifted except in specific circumstances such as at the border, where guidance will remain to keep passengers from red and amber list countries from mingling with other travellers.

For test, trace and protect - those in England will only have to isolate if told to by the NHS or after a postive test. Johnson wants those who have been double jabbed to be exempt. 

On travel, the red list will remain in place, but the PM said the UK government will work with the travel industry to allow those fully vaccinated to not have to isolate on return from an amber country. 

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Lastly, the PM said he will "monitor data and retain contingency measures for higher risk periods such as the winter" with an emphasis on "strengthened guidance" over reimposing restrictions. 

Johnson said during his televised conference that 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.”

The National:

Infections are expected to rise when rules are eased but UK ministers claim deaths and hospitalisations will be limited by vaccinations.

These changes are described as part of step four in the UK's roadmap out of lockdown and the changes will be confirmed on Monday, July 12 if the Goverment's "four tests" for easing restrictions are met.

These tests are:

  • Vaccine programme continuing successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines reduce hospitalisations and deaths
  • Infection rates do not risk putting the NHS under unsustainable pressure
  • New variants of concern do not change the risk

However, the Scottish government has said there will be an "ongoing need" for face coverings when all restrictions are lifted north of the border on 9 August.

The National:

The devolved nations, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all have control over their own coronavirus rules. The content of the PM's press conference applies to England only.

It comes as Unite union warned that dropping mask-wearing on public transport in England would be "gross negligence", and it would put transport and shop workers at higher risk of infection.

In Scotland, the rate of new cases currently stands at 405.8 per 100,000 people – the highest since comparable records began in the summer of 2020, when mass testing was introduced across the country.

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England’s rate is currently 223.2 – the highest since February 2 but below its second-wave peak. The rate is up sharply week-on-week from 129.0.