July 19 – aka "Freedom Day" – saw the remaining coronavirus restrictions eased across England.However, MPs are still encouraging people to continue to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces and not rush to return to the office.
With Covid cases continuing to surge, Mr Johnson addressed the country whilst in isolation at Chequers, stating that full-vaccination will be a condition of entry for nightclubs and large venues by the end of September.
The Prime Minister called on nightclubs to do the "socially responsible thing" and use vaccine passports as a condition of entry. The proof of vaccination can be accessed through the NHS app.
Ministers have predicted that new Covid cases could total more than 100,000 a day within weeks, while scientific advisors say they expect at least 1,000 daily hospital admissions.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Advisor, has said that cases are currently "quite close" to the winter wave, and has called on young people to get vaccinated to guarantee the highest level of protection.
But in more positive news for the vaccine programme, over two-thirds of adults in the UK are now estimated to have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine as of July 19 – hitting the Government’s target early.
With restrictions now at an end, the latest guidance is as follows.
Staggered return to work
Lockdown rules banner – WFH
Employers have been told not to instruct their workers to return to the office en masse, despite the Government lifting the official work-from-home order.
Businesses are instead being asked to stagger office returns throughout the summer, with Mr Johnson stressing that he expects a "gradual" transition back to the working practices seen before the pandemic.
Bosses have been told to set up mental health hotlines for anxious staff, as part of the official guidance from Whitehall.
The guidance also encourages the wearing of masks in offices, use of Perspex screens to separate desks, and creating “fixed teams” so staff limit the number of people they come into contact with.
The Department for Health and Social Care appears to have hinted that Covid passports could be used as a helpful tool to help people return to the office.
Business groups have warned, however, that the advice provided has been confusing. It is feared that some companies may be put off from bringing back staff due to concerns over possible lawsuits if they make a mistake, and trade unions have vowed to sue businesses if they force staff back against their will.
Masks expected to be worn
Lockdown rules banner – Masks
The expectations around the use of face masks in public will remain largely unchanged, even though the legal requirement has ended. The public are instead encouraged to employ "common sense".
Mr Johnson said: "We expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport."
They will not be required in settings such as nightclubs, despite being deemed high-risk, because these venues will be encouraged to roll out other mitigations such as Covid-status certification.
Sports fans will also be still be required to wear a face mask at sporting events, as well as show a Covid passport.
Under plans being hurriedly put in place, the Government will issue guidance to sports ahead of their return to full capacity, after Boris Johnson revealed venues with large crowds would be urged to adopt Covid certification – proof of full vaccination or evidence of a negative test – “as a matter of social responsibility”.
Limit social contacts
Lockdown rules banner – social distancing
People should continue to limit their contacts while Covid cases surge, despite the requirement to socially distance being lifted.
While the one-metre-plus rule and all legal caps on gatherings have fallen away, the Government is asking members of the public to continue "minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts".
According to official guidance, the public should seek to limit the "close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually".
The document says that people should "meet outdoors where possible", adding: "It’s always worth considering if you can meet outdoors or, if you’re indoors, thinking about how you can improve ventilation by letting fresh air in."
Although the guidance is not legally-binding, it is likely to come as a frustration to many in the run-up to the height of summer, when people are more likely to have more contacts than at many other periods of the year.
Lockdown rules banner – Isolation
The clinically extremely vulnerable are being encouraged to meet people outdoors and avoid those who are not fully vaccinated.
According to the latest guidance, people in this category are being asked to follow the same rules as everyone else but to consider additional precautions, such as not meeting people they do not usually come into contact with or who have not been vaccinated.
It advises that vulnerable people consider the risks of meeting in crowded and indoor spaces with poor ventilation, as well as in areas where there is high levels of community transmission.
Meeting outdoors is also encouraged, as is continuing social distancing if "that feels right for you and your friends", and the request for friends and family to take a lateral flow test before visiting.
For those concerned about returning to work, the document states that employers have a legal duty to protect their health and safety and that companies should explain the measures they have put in place to "keep you safe at work".
Lockdown rules banner – covid passports
Restaurants, pubs and bars are being urged to consider using Covid passports, under the latest government guidance for businesses on how to operate post-lockdown.
However, the Government has been accused of widening the net of companies encouraged to use domestic Covid passports, with Boris Johnson stating that proof of vaccination will be required as a condition of entry to nightclubs by the end of September.
Instead of mask-wearing and social distancing requirements, the Government has told these nightclubs to use Covid-status certification as a basis of entry to venues deemed "high risk".
Mr Johnson has resurrected the policy in the hope that it will prevent nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues from turbocharging the third Covid wave.
The plans come after a recent fall in take-up of the vaccine among young adults knocked the herd immunity strategy off course.
Third vs second wave (auto-updates)
Guidance published on July 12 stated that businesses which expected to use the Covid status are large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.
While this is not currently compulsory for many venues, it went on to warn that if "sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government will consider mandating the NHS Covid Pass in certain venues at a later date".
A Covid pass should not be used for essential services, such as GPs or supermarkets, it said.
To gain entry to venues choosing to go down the certification route, customers must be able to show proof of having been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior, evidence of a negative lateral flow test in the past two days, or a positive PCR test in the past six months to confirm a level of immunity to Covid-19.
They will be able to upload their Covid-status certification on the NHS app, which is separate to the NHS Test and Trace app. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results.