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Boris Johnson confirms “Freedom Day” to commence on 19 July – what does this mean for SMEs?

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Wednesday, 14 July 2021. Posted in Politics, Analysis

The Prime Minister advised Britons to still “proceed with caution” as masks and social distancing will be scrapped as of next week

Boris Johnson confirms “Freedom Day” to commence on 19 July – what does this mean for SMEs?

The Prime Minister advised Britons to still “proceed with caution” as masks and social distancing will be scrapped as of next week 

Boris Johnson has confirmed England’s “Freedom Day” will commence on 19 July. Addressing the nation on Monday, the Prime Minister announced plans to ease almost all of the Covid-19 lockdown rules next week. However, he advised Britons to be cautious with their freedom – so what does this mean for SMEs across the country? 

Speaking to MPs today, Boris Johnson warned that the pandemic is still not “over” despite the success of the vaccine rollout and advised Britons to “proceed with caution”. From 19 July, social distancing and wearing of masks will no longer be a legal requirement. Mass events will be permitted and quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK from abroad will also be scrapped, along with the school bubble system. Last week, the Prime Minister said masks would become a “personal choice” as he plans to remove the laws making them a legal requirement on buses, trains, shops and indoor venues. 

He said today: "We think now is the right time to proceed. If we were to delay this fourth step, to September or later, then we would be reopening as the weather gets colder and when the virus has a greater natural advantage. But it is absolutely vital now that we proceed with caution." 

He added: "By next Monday, two thirds of adults would have received a second dose and every adult would have been offered a first dose. It is the single most crucial thing now that you get that jab. A jab that can protect you, your family and allow you to go on holiday." 

Even though social distancing and the wearing of masks will no longer become a legal requirement, However, businesses and retailers can choose to continue enforcing health and safety procedures if they wish, and maintain standards of hygiene and cleanliness in their store premises. With a rise in Covid-19 infections since lockdown was lifted, businesses should bear in mind the safety and comfort of their customers as many may not be completely comfortable with the relaxation of the rules, Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International said. 

“Ahead of the restrictions lifting in the UK on 19th July, retailers across the country will have the choice of whether or not to continue the enforcement of customers wearing masks while shopping,” Darren explained. “While it will no longer be a legal requirement from the government but a recommendation to wear face coverings in indoor settings with low ventilation, retailers must consider the health and safety issues of lifting all rules after the 19th, especially with the rise of Covid-19 infections. Protecting employees and customers should be given the utmost priority. So, if this means the continued use of hand sanitiser stations, regularly reminding people to sanitise, use of masks and leaving a one- or two-meter gap in place, then so be it. Not everybody feels comfortable about the relaxation of rules, and it’s important to respect that.   

“According to a YouGov survey, two-thirds (64%) of Britons plan to keep wearing masks this summer after Covid-19 restrictions end, and two-fifths (38%) say they will ‘definitely’ keep using hand sanitiser. Remember that the vulnerable members of the public are more susceptible to catching the virus, and although a substantial proportion of the country has been vaccinated, there continues to be a proportion of the population that hasn’t been. People have lost family, friends and loved ones during this pandemic, so retailers that aren’t respectful of continued sanitation and regular cleaning to maintain a high standard of hygiene will be the ones that might see customers turn away.” 

As the UK enters its final stage of the road map out of lockdown, Britons will rejoice as mass venues will now be open once again since March 2020 when the first lockdown commenced. However, it is fundamental that we still take precautions as infections will rise once Covid-19 rules are lifted. 

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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