Social distancing rules are to be scrapped from July 19, Boris Johnson has confirmed, though there will be some exceptions.
The Prime Minister announced his plans to “restore people’s freedoms” and lift the majority of remaining restrictions in a 5pm Downing Street press conference tonight.
The one metre plus rule will be scrapped except in specific places – such as airport arrival halls and if you test positive and are on your way to self-isolation.
Ministers are confident that the vaccination rollout has dramatically cut the numbers of people suffering serious illness of death.
The Government will also publish the findings of reviews into social distancing and vaccine passports.
Mr Johnson previously said: “Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination programme, we are progressing cautiously through our roadmap.
“Today we will set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach step 4.
“But I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks.
“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgement when going about our lives.”
He told the Downing Street press conference: “We’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.
“In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there’s only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further, and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.”
The PM called for more people to get their second dose before July 19 to offer them the highest protection as cases surge.
Over 78 million vaccine doses have now been administered in the UK, and 63.4% of adults have received two doses.
But scientists and health experts urged the Government to maintain caution.
Prof Stephen Reicher of St Andrew’s University said it was “frightening” that the Government appeared “unconcerned” at levels of infection.
“Above all, it is frightening to have a ‘Health’ Secretary who wants to make all protections a matter of personal choice when the key message of the pandemic is “this isn’t an ‘I’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing. Your behaviour affects my health. Get your head around the ‘we’ concept,” he added.