U.K lifts COVID-19 restrictions amid rising cases

U.K lifts COVID-19 restrictions amid rising cases

England has lifted all coronavirus restrictions and there will be no limits on how many people can attend meetings and nightclubs reopened at midnight.

The United Kingdom (U.K) is ending most COVID-19 restrictions in England as part of the final step of England’s roadmap out of the lockdown.

Nearly 88 percent of adults in Britain have received the first jab of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 68 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The country has so far reported more than 48,000 new cases of coronavirus in the latest 24 hours, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to more than 5.43 million.

Amid the spike in the number of infections, U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged caution as most legal restrictions on social contact are lifted in England.

“If we don’t do it now we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?” he asked, adding that the virus would have the “advantage of the cold weather” in autumn and winter.

“But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.”

Scientists have warned that lifting all restrictions at this stage could increase likelihood of dangerous variants.

Face coverings will no longer be required by law, although the government has advised to still wear them in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as shops and public transport.

Social distance rules will end, so there will be no limits on how many people can meet.

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Limits on events and gatherings will also be eased. Nightclubs can reopen and people will be allowed to attend events, like concerts, theatres or sports.

The move points out a test of whether a rapid vaccine roll-out offers enough protection from the highly contagious Delta variant.

Johnson’s government had initially set June 21 as the date for England’s full reopening, but was forced to delay so-called “Freedom Day” because of a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant.

Here are the 10 key areas in which the government will change its policy on coronavirus in England from July 19.

1) People will no longer have to legally wear face masks, but they will be recommended under certain circumstances. However, this will be a personal choice. Transport providers can still choose to require passengers to wear masks if they choose.

2) There will be no limits on social distancing or how many people can meet socially. This applies to weddings, funerals and in care homes, although enhanced infection control measures will apply.

3) There will be no limits on capacity at concert venues, restaurants, and pubs. Nightclubs and other businesses will also be able to open.

4) The government will work with the transport and holiday industries to allow fully vaccinated individuals to return from amber-list countries without quarantining.

5) There will be no restrictions on the number of people at large events such as sports matches and concerts.

6) To speed up the vaccine roll-out, the interval between doses for people under 40 will be reduced to 8 weeks from 12 weeks.

7) People will no longer need to work from home, but it will be up to individual employers to decide when employees should return.

8) The government will axe rules for employers on how to make their premises “COVID secure.”

9.) The government’s testing system for those with symptoms will continue, but free asymptomatic testing will be available until September.

10) People will still be required to self-isolate after testing positive or when instructed to by the government’s test-and-trace system. However, people who have had two vaccine doses will no longer need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with coronavirus.

Personal responsibility

Johnson added that his plan to end restrictions did not mean people should not proceed without caution, warning that a new variant current vaccines did not protect against could mean new measures might be needed in the future.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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