Monday 19 July 2021 is the date when all Covid restrictions were lifted, but what exactly are the new rules? From mask-wearing to overseas travel, here’s what you need to know.
Quarantine for amber list countries will be scrapped for fully vaccinated people
After two months of a slim green list of countries, 19 July marked a huge moment for the travel industry, as it’s the date from which fully vaccinated UK residents do not need to quarantine after returning home from places on the amber list (except for France, which is a new exception to this rule and requires quarantine at home whether you’ve been vaccinated or not). On Thursday 8 July, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the news, telling the House of Commons: ‘I can confirm today, from 19 July UK, residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England.’
Travellers still have to take a pre-departure test three days before they go and a PCR test on or before day two of returning home. They are also no longer be required to take a day eight test, meaning the regulations for green and amber list countries will be the same.
This new rule only applies to people once they’ve been fully vaccinated for 14 days.
More than six people can meet and stay together again
While restaurant, pub and Airbnb bookings have been limited to six people indoors, this rule was lifted on 19 July and the number is now unlimited. As a result, celebrations can go ahead as normal and you can travel around the UK with as many friends and family members as you like. Check out our pick of the best hotels in the UK.
Social-distancing rules have been lifted
The legal requirement to socially distance from others has been removed, with people instructed to ‘use common sense’. This means that bigger events, such as festivals, are able to go ahead once more. Guidance on social distancing remains in force for those who are required to self-isolate after contracting Covid-19.
This also means that nightclubs and other indoor venues are now permitted to reopen after nearly 18 months. So far many venue managers and event organisers have rejected the government’s advice to check ‘Covid passports’ via the NHS Covid-19 app to see whether guests have had two vaccine doses, a negative test or have recently recovered from the virus before allowing entry.
Face masks are not compulsory, but are encouraged
Legal regulations requiring face masks to be worn indoors in the UK were dropped from 19 July; however, prime minister Boris Johnson said he expects the public to ‘exercise judgement’. In a press conference on Monday 5 July, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty gave three scenarios in which he will still wear a mask: in crowded indoor spaces, when required to by an authority, and to make someone else feel comfortable.
Some companies have said they will continue to require face masks. For example, on Tuesday 13 July Mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed that masks will still be required on all public transport in London. He said: ‘By keeping face masks mandatory we will give Londoners and visitors the reassurance and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while also protecting our heroic transport workers and those who may be vulnerable and rely on the network to get around our city. It’s an extra layer of protection on top of TfL’s world-leading enhanced cleaning regime – and I’m sure Londoners will continue to do the right thing as they have done throughout the pandemic, and continue to wear a face covering on TfL services.’
Working-from-home guidance has been lifted
Employees are no longer being told to work from home where possible, although it is up to businesses to set their own rules on returning to the office. However, the government has not yet encouraged a return to office working, instead leaving it up to individual employers and employees.
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