TODAY, Monday (July 19), England has moved into the final stage of easing Covid restrictions.

It means almost all legal restrictions on social contact will be removed.

But the Prime Minister has urged people not to 'throw caution to the winds' and acknowledged there would be more hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 to come during 'difficult days and weeks ahead'.

Boris Johnson said it was the success of the vaccination programme which meant they could go ahead with the final reopening of the economy.

"If we are careful and if we continue to respect this disease and its continuing menace then it is highly probable – almost all the scientists are agreed on this – the worst of the pandemic is behind us," he said in a speech in Coventry last week.

"There are difficult days and weeks ahead as we deal with the current wave of the Delta variant and there will be sadly more hospitalisation and more deaths, but with every day that goes by we build higher the wall of vaccine-acquired immunity."

So, what kind of things are changing in England today?

  • No limits on how many people can meet – indoors or outdoors – and the one-metre rule has been removed (except in certain environments like healthcare settings)
  • Face coverings are no longer required by law, although the guidance is still to continue wearing one in crowded places – plus some shops, transport operators and other settings are still requiring people to wear masks
  • Table-service only rules in bars and restaurants have been scrapped, although still recommended
  • Nightclubs can reopen
  • Large events (such as concerts, theatre performances, sports events, worship, weddings and funerals) can go ahead
  • Limits on the amount of visitors to care homes are no longer in place
  • All under-18s and adults who are fully vaccinated no longer have to self-isolate when returning from an amber list country

Figures to Wednesday last week show 46,097,464 people have received a first dose of vaccine, a rise of 60,374 on the previous day, while 35,341,428 of them are now double-jabbed, an increase of 185,661.

The latest Government guidance says shoppers will still be expected to wear face masks and table service should continue in pubs and bars, even though it will no longer be a statutory requirement.

The move has been widely criticised by both trade unions and employers, with ministers accused of sending out 'mixed messages' while giving businesses little time to prepare the new regime.

Leading supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose have all said they will encourage customers to wear masks.

Public Health England said staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing from July 19.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council also said officers would continue to wear masks.