Working from home guidance will be scrapped and social distancing regulations will be abolished
The Prime Minister has confirmed the final stage of England’s roadmap will commence on 19 July, officially bringing an end to most lockdown rules. The mask laws and one-metre social distancing rules will be dropped. What does this mean for SMEs?
In a press conference on Monday, the Prime Minister told Downing Street that restrictions will end despite concerns from scientists that the government is relaxing restrictions too quickly. The rule of six inside homes will be removed and work-from-home guidance will be abolished. The plan is expected to go ahead on 19 July and will be confirmed on 12 July after a review of the latest data. He added that face coverings will no longer be legally required. Further updates on school bubbles, travel and self-isolation will follow in the next few days, the Prime Minister said.
The final stage of England’s roadmap, step 4, was delayed last month to 19 July amid a rise in cases linked to the Delta variant. Businesses will see relaxed Covid-19 restrictions around their operations, and the hospitality industry will be able to operate at full capacity once again. This will mean there will be an end to limits on attendees at weddings and funerals. Legal requirements on pubs will be lifted, meaning table service rules at bars and restaurants and venue check-in requirements will be scrapped. Also, the five-person limit on care home visitors will be lifted. However, there may still be a limit on the number of visitors a resident can receive in one day and infection control measures such as PPE and enhanced cleaning, will remain in place. Large-scale events will no longer require certification, and nightclubs will also reopen for the first time since the pandemic began last year. Councils will also no longer have the power to enforce Covid-19 rules. Social distancing rules in venues will also be lifted. On Monday, a further 27,334 Covid-19 cases were reported across the, alongside another nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Mr Johnson said in his speech today: 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? However, Mr Johnson acknowledged the pandemic was far from over with cases rising fairly rapidly.
There could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th, he said. We are seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid. In these circumstances, we must take a careful and a balanced decision ‘ and there’s only one reason why we contemplate going ahead to Step 4 in circumstances where we would normally be locking down further and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.
Chief medical adviser Chris Whitty warned the NHS could face a “very difficult” winter. However, the prime minister explained: “If we don’t go ahead now when we’ve clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the link… when would we go ahead?”
He 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.” Professor Chris Whitty declared he will continue to wear a face-covering when in a crowded situation indoors, when required to by an authority and if someone else was uncomfortable with him not wearing a mask.