Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister held a press conference alongside Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
The PM used the conference to set out the plan for Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap, confirming the news trailed over the weekend that social distancing restrictions in England are expected to be lifted on July 19th – subject to confirmation on Monday 12th July. He impressed the importance of businesses’ and individuals’ responsibility and judgement moving forward. Notably, he outlined that face masks will no longer be mandatory and the one-metre social distancing rule will be scrapped. He also confirmed that the Government is lifting its official ‘work from home’ advice to allow businesses to plan for their transition back to the office.
The Prime Minister’s press conference:
• The Prime Minister outlined that if the Government confirms on Monday 12th that the UK is in a position to move towards Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap on July 19th, it will follow a five point plan:
1. Bolster the ‘vaccination wall’ by minimising the interval required between an individual’s first and second vaccination from twelve weeks to eight weeks. This will ensure that all adults over the age of 18 will be fully vaccinated by September. The Government will also pursue a ‘booster programme’ for older and vulnerable adults this Autumn.
2. Move away from legal restrictions and allow informed decisions, this will see:
• The removal of all legal restrictions on the number of individuals that are able to gather in indoor and outdoor settings.
• All businesses being able to reopen, including night clubs, theatres and music events.
• No limits on the number of individuals that are able to visit care homes.
• The ending of the ‘one-metre plus’ rule in almost all settings apart from ports of entry and medical settings.
• No further legal obligation that individuals wear a face covering indoors however, the Government will issue guidance which recommends where people should still consider wearing one (i.e. crowded public transport).
• The lifting of official ‘work from home’ guidance to allow businesses to plan for the transition back to the office.
• The Prime Minister confirmed that the Government will not require the use of COVID certification but outlined that businesses and organisations will have the freedom to use a form of certification if they deem it necessary.
3. A continued use of ‘test trace and isolate’, meaning that if people are told to self-isolate, they should do so. However, the PM outlined that the Government is looking at whether this should change for those who are double vaccinated.
4. A review of current travel restrictions. The Prime Minister recognised that once a large proportion of adults have been double vaccinated, it is likely that rules surrounding the requirement of those travelling from the amber travel list will change and the Government is working with the travel industry to determine what this should look like in the future.
5. The Government will continue to use data to determine protections but the Government will place emphasis on strengthened guidance and do everything that is possible to avoid reimposing restrictions.