Face masks could be ditched after 19 July as final COVID-19 restrictions end, reports say
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 04/07/2021
Face masks and social distancing will no longer be required after 19 July, according to reports.
The news comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be preparing to ease the last remaining coronavirus restrictions in England later this month.
With lockdown hawk Matt Hancock having resigned as health secretary, it is thought that his replacement Sajid Javid is keener to fully reopen the economy.
He wrote in The Mail On Sunday that the UK should find ways to live with COVID-19, as it cannot be “eliminated”.
Despite virus cases rising, the number of deaths remains relatively low in a highly-vaccinated population, so the pressure is building to return to normality.
The Sunday Times reported that mask wearing will become voluntary in all settings and the one-metre-plus rule in hospitality venues such as pubs will end.
This would mean people could once again drink at the bar instead of only being allowed table service.
Having to scan a QR code before entering a bar, restaurant or similar venue would also be a thing of the past after 19 July, meaning a smaller risk of people being told to isolate by Test and Trace.
Mass events, including festivals, would also be allowed under the proposals for the final stage of the road map out of lockdown.
The newspaper quoted a Downing Street source who said that while modelling predicted that unlocking would lead to more cases, the success of the vaccine rollout meant the government was “confident there will be no risk of additional pressure on the NHS”.
Asked about the reports, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “No decisions have been made but more details will be set out soon.”
It comes after Downing Street said on Saturday that it is considering scrapping quarantine requirements for those who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
It is understood that all legal self-isolation measures could be dropped for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who is infected “as part of the post-Step 4 world”.
Ministers had already been considering replacing self-isolation with daily testing, depending on the results of a number of pilots currently being carried out.
But officials confirmed this weekend that additional thought was going into making the testing requirement advisory rather than mandatory for those who have had two jabs.
The British Medical Association had pleaded with the government to keep some of the measures beyond any reopening, including the use of masks in areas such as shops and public transport.
Latest figures show that, in the 24 hours to 9am on Saturday, there were 24,885 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK, while 18 people died within 28 days of testing positive.
© Sky News 2020