'Major milestone' as PM confirms pub restrictions will end

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Unlocking plans: Prime Minister Boris Johnon set out plans for how England will cope with coronavirus in the coming months (franckreporter / Getty)
Unlocking plans: Prime Minister Boris Johnon set out plans for how England will cope with coronavirus in the coming months (franckreporter / Getty)

Related tags Pubs ukhospitality Boris johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined how England will learn to live with coronavirus, announcing the end of the rule of six and social distancing for pubs.

In a press briefing from Downing Street, Johnson confirmed the one-metre plus social distancing requirement for businesses would be scrapped from Monday 19 July.

Other measures to be removed under step four of the Government’s unlocking roadmap include the legal obligation to wear a face covering and the work-from-home message.

Nightclubs will also be able to reopen on this date for the first time since March 2020, Johnson confirmed.

The vaccine roll out has made lifting restrictions possible, the Prime Minister added.

The Government hopes all adults will have received a first dose of a vaccine and two thirds will have received both doses by 19 July.

However, Johnson stressed that the country would have to battle Covid-19 for many months more with cases currently rising.

Far from over

“This pandemic is far from over and it certainly won't be over by 19 July" but the country must “balance the risks” of damaging restrictions with the virus, Johnson said.

A summer reopening would be preferable to one in the winter when “the virus will have an advantage,” he said.

An official greenlight for ‘freedom day’ will be given on 12 July, providing all four tests for lifting restrictions are met.

The Prime Minister outlined a five-point plan ahead of this confirmation “to give families and businesses time to prepare".

The interval between first and second doses will be reduced from 12 weeks to eight for under-40s.

What’s more, the Government will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own “informed decisions” with strengthened guidance.

There will be no legal requirements for a Covid certification system for “any venue or event” although businesses can utilise the NHS app to introduce their own systems.

Proportionate system 

The virus will be managed with a test, trace and isolate system that is “proportionate to the pandemic,” Johnson added.

He said ministers were looking to “move to a different regime for fully vaccinated contacts of those testing positive and for children".

This will be welcome news for industry bosses who have been hit hard by staff having to self-isolate in recent weeks.

The country must maintain tough border controls and ministers will continue to monitor data on the virus, the Prime Minister concluded. 

“We will place an emphasis on strengthened guidance and do everything possible to avoid re-imposing restrictions with all the costs they bring,” he said.

Johnson was joined by England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who urged the public to continue to mitigate the risk of transmitting the virus where possible.

Major milestone

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls hailed the “major milestone” and said it would be celebrated by pub bosses across the country.

She added: “This progress is testament to the constructive and positive work we have undertaken with Government, to pave the way for this timely handing over of responsibility, shifting from enforced legal requirements to an onus on personal and business responsibilities, to ensure that we continue to safeguard our staff and customers in the tried and tested ways we know work best.”

Nicholls said venues would “need autonomy to act according to their own risk assessments, without local authority gold-plating” in order to recover from restrictions this summer.

She also called for “a workable test and trace system that doesn’t demand blanket self-isolation like the test to remain-style system, to ensure that we can both protect our staff but trade with sufficient teams.”

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