In a Downing Street news conference, England PM Boris Johnson confirmed that face masks will no longer be legally required and distancing rules will be scrapped at the final stage of England’s Covid lockdown roadmap. The rule of six inside private homes will be removed and work-from-home guidance abolished as 16 months of on-off restrictions on daily life end. The final step would go ahead as planned on 19 July. Further updates on school bubbles, travel and self-isolation will follow in the coming days. Johnson appreciated the success of the vaccine rollout. The autumn schools will be back and people will be outdoors more in the summer months. Nightclubs will reopen for the first time since the pandemic began, while drinks at the bar will return in a boost to the hospitality industry.
But the PM added: “We run the risk of either opening up at a very difficult time when the virus has an edge, has an advantage, in the cold months, or again putting everything off to next year.” Self-isolation orders for those who test positive would continue, Mr Johnson said. No country in the world has attempted to lift restrictions like this at this time. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own coronavirus rules. The Scottish government has said it may continue to require masks in certain settings even after 9 August. Rules in Northern Ireland have just eased, with another review due on 8 July. A further 27,334 cases were reported across the UK on Monday, alongside another nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test.