“We think now is the right moment to proceed…it is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution,” Boris Johnson said.
English people are waking up to a new reality this morning as the country lifts most of its Covid-19 restrictions, despite some 1.8 million people currently quarantining due to being close contacts with a confirmed case.
As face masks come off and social distancing is dispensed with, the country’s prime minister Boris Johnson is among those in isolation, having been a close contact of Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who recently tested positive.
Venues such as pubs and restaurants will no longer be required to scan QR codes, and, while London mayor Sadiq Khan and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham are maintaining mask mandates on public transport, most cities will not.
With some 50,000 positive cases now being found each day in England however, fear is mounting that the government may eventually reverse its lifting of restrictions, with Boris Johnson sounding an increasingly cautious tone, cancelling what was being billed as a celebratory, Churchillian address to the nation.
“If we don’t do it now we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?” Johnson said on social media.
“This is the right moment but we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there.”
Like so many people I've been pinged by NHS Test and Trace as I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and I will be self-isolating until Monday 26th July. pic.twitter.com/X57gDpwDqe
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 18, 2021
Medical staff are also expected to receive a dispensation from having to isolate if they are close contacts of confirmed cases, as the NHS tries to tackle the backlog of people on waiting lists for surgery and screenings.
Limits on the number of people who can meet indoors or outdoors are now lifted, as are restrictions on the number attending weddings or funerals, whilst drinkers can order at the bar again, and stadiums, cinemas and theatres are allowed operate at full capacity.
There are still restrictions on travel however, with the country requiring UK travellers from red list countries to quarantine in hotels for ten days and all unvaccinated travellers from amber list countries to self-isolate.
Taking a more cautious approach for now, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not lifted restrictions to the same degree as England.