Covid: These are the lockdown rules that have changed from July 19 in England

Credit: PA

All legal Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted in England from July 19.

The government has moved its focus from state-imposed restrictions to "personal responsibility" - meaning people are able to act freely but also leading to worries from some that it could lead to significant outbreaks of the virus.

There has also be an acceleration of the vaccination programme for under-40s by reducing the 12-week gap between both doses to eight. This means all adults should have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by mid-September.

From mask wearing, social distancing, and weddings - here is what has changed in step four.

How many people can I see at once?

There are no more BBQs in the rain or awkward conversations about who has to be dropped from indoor plans to keep to the rule of six.

Limits on social contact in England has disappeared, meaning people can meet inside or outside with as many people as they are happy to see.

Limits on gatherings will be lifted indoors and outdoors in the final stage of the roadmap.

There are no longer by any restrictions on the number of guests at weddings and mourners at funerals.

Large scale events, such as festivals or large sporting events, no longer require certification to go ahead, although organisers are encouraged to use vaccine passports to ascertain who has been double-jabbed.

Limits have also been lifted on businesses, meaning clubs can reopen and theatres and cinemas can return to normal capacities.

Listen to our Covid podcast, Coronavirus: What You Need To Know:

Will I need to prove I've had the vaccine or be tested to attend events or visit certain venues?

Businesses do not need to ask people to prove their Covid status (whether they've had the vaccine or to prove that they have recently tested negative) through so-called domestic vaccine passports.

However, Boris Johnson has said firms can choose to use the Covid status certification system. So, you may still need to prove you've taken the vaccine or get tested, if businesses or event organisers insist on these safety measures.

Nightclubs, which have been closed since the first lockdown in March last year, have been allowed to open their doors but are encouraged to use certification to minimise the risks.

To gain entry to venues choosing to go down the NHS Covid Pass route, punters must be able to show proof of having been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior, evidence of a negative lateral flow test in the past two days, or a positive PCR test in the past six months to confirm a level of immunity to Covid-19.

The Covid Pass on the NHS app shows proof of double vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity having recovered from coronavirus.

Although its use is voluntary for now, if cases continue to rise the government may consider making it mandatory in certain venues in future.

What about social distancing?

Rules on social distancing have also been discarded in step four, with the 'one metre plus' rule being scrapped entirely as England unlocks.

Like many other parts of the government's plans, however, some guidance will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social-distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green-list areas.

How many people can you have at a wedding?

At the moment, there are complex rules for numbers at weddings based on a risk assessment carried out by a venue to work out how many people can safely be invited.

The change to social distancing rules from July 19, means that is all gone too with attendance limits lifted for weddings, funerals and other life events.

Will face coverings still be mandatory?

In a move that has led to criticism from some government advisors, there will be no legal requirements to wear face coverings in step four.

However, Downing Street said the government will “expect and recommend” the continued use of face masks in crowded areas and on public transport.

There will be no legal requirements on mask wearing, but guidance will still encourage using masks in some settings. Credit: PA

There are also questions about whether individual organisations will continue to enforce mask wearing.

Airline Ryanair said that masks would still be mandatory on all its flights after the lockdown easing.

Can I still work from home?

The guidance on working from home has gone and messaging on the issue will end.

It is ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government says employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

Will I still need to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid-19?

Yes, the test and trace system is here to stay. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will still need to share details of their close contacts with NHS Test and Trace.

So although life may seem like it has returned to normal, if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace by text, email or phone call, you will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

Your isolation period includes the date of your last contact with the infected person and the next 10 full days. Failure to self-isolate can result in a fine, starting from £1,000. 

If you don't have symptoms, people you live with do not need to self-isolate with you.

If you do have symptoms, other people you live with must self-isolate for 10 days too. And, you must get a Covid test. Your household can also get a test, even if they do not have symptoms. You and your household’s isolation period includes the day your symptoms started and the next 10 full days.

Fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases, however, will not have to isolate from August 16.

More details on the government website.

What about visiting care homes?

One of the great tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic has been the isolation of care home residents with visiting banned for long stretches of time.

From June 21, every care home resident was allowed to nominate up to five ‘named visitors’ who could enter the home for regular visits, and residents can have no more than two visitors at a time or over the course of one day 

But, from July 19, all limits were lifted on care home visits.

Is anything changing in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland?

The changes to Covid rules, announced by the prime minister, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said.

Ms Morgan said further announcements on any potential easing of lockdown measures in Wales were hoped to be made on Wednesday.

The Scottish government delayed further wide-scale reopening to July 19 when they have planned for all areas to move to level 0.

They are aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased, including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

Can I go on holiday?

People who have been fully vaccinated and those under-18 will be permitted to travel to amber countries without the requirement to quarantine upon return to the UK.

Whether the country you wish to travel to will permit your entry without quarantining is another question.

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