Boris Johnson confirms nearly all Covid restrictions to be lifted on July 19 in England

What will life in England be like after July 19? Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen explains more

Nearly all Covid-19 lockdown restrictions will be scrapped in England on July 19, the prime minister has confirmed as he warned "this pandemic is not over".

Social distancing and legal limits on gatherings will end but the use of domestic vaccine passports and face masks will be encouraged.

Watch Boris Johnson address the public after Sajid Javid confirmed almost all restrictions would ease from July 19.

Experts fear there could be up to 200 deaths and 2,000 hospital admissions per day as cases surge, despite the protection offered by the vaccination campaign.

Boris Johnson said in a coronavirus update on Monday that the government believed it was right to proceed "with caution", adding that life will not "simply revert" to the pre-pandemic normal on July 19.

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations 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.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, 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 on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is 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.

Back to top

"It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough: this pandemic is not over," he said.

“This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family.

"We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday July 19 to life as it was before Covid."

He said mask use will be advised "in crowded and enclosed spaces" and that a "gradual return to work over the summer” is expected rather than a rush back to the office en masse.

Mr Johnson did not rule out reimposing restrictions saying the government would not "hesitate to use the means we have at our disposal."

Asked by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen whether the easing was irreversible, Mr Johnson said: "I hope that the road map is irreversible but in order to have that it has also got to be a cautious approach, that’s why we waited those extra weeks to get seven million more jabs into people’s arms."

ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan discusses what the country can expect from an 'exit wave'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid had earlier confirmed the easing of restrictions in the House of Commons telling MPs: "To those who say 'why take this step now', I say if not now when?

"There will be never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus."

Ministers concluded that the four tests set for unlocking, the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence that vaccines are causing a reduction in hospital admissions and deaths, that infection rates do not risk a surge in admissions, and that no new variants of concern throw progress off track, are being met, allowing Step 4 of the road map to proceed as planned.

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says there is still one thing the government hasn't considered when it comes to ending restrictions

This is despite official acknowledgement that there could be 100,000 new cases a day in the summer and between 1,000 and 2,000 hospital admissions.

The government has previously said that from Step 4, all coronavirus restrictions on gatherings will be removed, masks will no longer be legally required, social distancing measures will be scrapped and the order to work from home will be lifted.

But while the legal restrictions are going, guidance will make clear that people and firms are expected to continue to take action to limit the spread of the virus.

This includes the widespread use of Covid status certification - so-called vaccine passports allowing people to show whether they are double-jabbed, have a negative test result or have natural immunity after recovering from Covid-19.

Listen to our politics podcast, Calling Peston

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

Other "large events" will also be encouraged to use vaccine passports, with customers able to prove their status using the NHS app.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that going slowly through the next step was "essential" to reduce the impact of the "exit wave".

He said there was wide agreement between the scientific community that the four-week delay to the final stage of the road map was important to reduce the number of people admitted to hospital and deaths.

"Secondly, there is extremely wide agreement that whenever we go through the next step, there is going to be what’s called an exit wave – there will be a wave associated with that," he said.

"And that the slower we take it, the fewer people will have Covid, the smaller the peak will be, and the smaller the number of people who go into hospital and die.

"So, going very slowly through this step is really essential, and this again is the overwhelming view of the scientific people who have looked at this and of the medical profession."

Mr Javid encouraged those working from home to "return to work gradually" and added "they should try to meet people outside where that’s possible".

He said it was "expected and recommended" for people to wear face coverings, unless exempt, in crowded indoor spaces like pubs.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the government's plan "reckless", citing an increase in infection rates across England.

Sir Keir Starmer slams the government's approach, calling it "reckless"

He said: "We need a safe way of coming through this. I feel very strongly that the government wants to put the country in a car without a seat belt to get as quickly as possible to the end of the roadmap."

Meanwhile, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the government was following a "high risk, fatalistic approach".

He added Mr Javid was "pushing his foot down on the accelerator while throwing the seat belts off".

Mr Ashworth warned Israel had reintroduced masks and the Netherlands had to close reopened nightclubs after two weeks.

He asked: "Is it still his view that the 19th (July) is terminus day and that everything he has announced today is irreversible, or does he agree it would be more sensible to have regular review dates in place through the summer as we deal with this third wave and rising infections?"

Mr Javid replied: "There is no risk-free way forward and while opening up is not without risk, ongoing restrictions are not without cost."

He added: "Case numbers are going up, we expect them to continue going up, but the most important difference today versus the last wave is the vaccination (programme), that wall of defence that our country has built which has meant that hospitalisations although they are rising as case numbers rise, they’re rising at a lot slower rate than before."

"In September we will have a review to make sure that we’re properly set up for autumn and for winter", Mr Javid said.