'Freedom Day': How businesses in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have reacted to the changes

Businesses across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire can open at full capacity for the first time in almost 18 months today as coronavirus restrictions are removed.

Social distancing and mask-wearing will no longer be mandatory in England, in the lowest level of restrictions since the pandemic began, however, the government has urged people to exercise caution and many shops, attractions and transport bodies say face-coverings will still be required in their premises and vehicles.

Despite rising cases and hospitalisations, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told ITV News it was the "right step to take at this time" citing the success of the vaccination programme.

The metro mayors of South and West Yorkshire have said that face coverings will be mandatory in indoor bus stations, but they do not have the power to make them compulsory on public transport.

A survey by Welcome to Yorkshire found that 63% of people in the region are not ready for all restrictions to be relaxed and that 57% of people will still be wearing masks.

The survey also found that 60% of respondents are nervous about restrictions being eased.

At Fibre Nightclub in Leeds people queued at midnight to have their first dance somewhere in 16 months.

The owner of the club, Terry George, said:''The fact that people are going to be dancing again is really what we're here for. 21 years of making people dance and entertaining people is what it's been about.

"I am absolutely ecstatic, that's my life, my soul. I love dancing it makes me feel so good.''

However, Greg Fell, the Director of Public Health for Sheffield, said: ''If we all revert back immediately rates will just go higher and higher.

"Whilst the vaccination programme has massively cut the link between being a case and hospitalisation - it hasn't severed it completely.

"So it's important that people dont think that it's all over because it absolutely isn't. We'll still need to take care for some time to come.''

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.

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Marie, the owner of Green Cottage Tearooms in Louth, said: "I think we have to get into the spirit of it really - it is long overdue and people are ready for it. We're not making too many changes, the tables will still be spaced out, if people want to wear masks they can.

"50% of our staff want to wear masks and the other 50% don't and I have to respect that. We just want people to feel comfortable and we will respect their wishes."

Danica Lawson, who runs a clothing shop in Louth believes that the changes will make customers feel more comfortable coming into shops.

"We're hoping customers will feel more relaxed coming into the shop, especially with the hot weather a lot of people find it quite claustrophobic, so we're hoping we'll have a few more customers in and out the shop doors," she said.

She added: "We're leaving it to the customers, but as staff we will wear masks if we are in close contact with people, but apart from that it is down to customer discretion."

However, Megan Beck, the manager of a restaurant in the town said that she will be making no changes to social distancing, due a rise in the number of people being "pinged" by the NHS Test and Trace app.

Former Olympic Boxing Champion, Luke Campbell, will be celebrating the full opening of his gym in Hull by having a party this evening with a DJ.

He said: "It's all been very tough for us, especially during lockdown, all isolating and not going out. When we were finally allowed to open people were coming through the door, they had a smile on their face and it was fantastic to see.

"And even for myself, training just makes you feel good in yourself, in the way you look, the way you feel and I think that's just really important for people.

The easing of restrictions come amidst the highest levels of Covid cases since the peak of the second coronavirus wave back in January 2021.

With new cases of the virus already having passed the 50,000-a-day mark, some scientists have expressed concern at the ending of restrictions while the Delta variant is spreading so rapidly.

Professor Neil Ferguson – whose modelling led to the first lockdown in March 2020 – said they could reach 200,000 before the current wave of the pandemic finally peaked.

He said that could result in 2,000 hospital admissions a day leading to “major disruption” and further backlogs in NHS services.

On Tuesday, the last day for which data was available, 730 patients were admitted to hospital.