Boris Johnson to ‘restore freedoms’ as he unveils blueprint for life after July 19

4 July 2021, 22:30 | Updated: 5 July 2021, 08:27

Boris Johnson will lead a coronavirus press conference on Monday
Boris Johnson will lead a coronavirus press conference on Monday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson is to unveil what life will look like after July 19 with people told they will need to learn how to live with coronavirus in the same way as they live with flu.

Mr Johnson will be holding a press briefing on Monday to lay out his final plans on 'restoring freedoms'.

It is expected that the one-metre plus rule will be scrapped, working from home orders will be dropped, and mask wearing will no longer be mandatory.

Pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at the bar and people will allowed to judge the risks of the virus for themselves.

The PM will use the press conference to explain how the government plans to "restore people's freedoms" after unlocking the country.

Mask wearing and social distancing will become voluntary, and they will not be required inside shops and public transport.

And on Saturday, a source said the Government was investigating if it can drop self-isolation for fully vaccinated people when they come into contact with someone infected with coronavirus.

Read more: Govt wants to replace Covid laws with 'personal responsibility' after 19 July

Read more: Calls for some rules to stay but double-jabbed will 'no longer need to isolate'

Last year, the Government pushed for a formal return to work for all workers, although it is understood this time around the decision on whether to have workers in the office will be left to individual businesses to decide.

Mass events, including festivals, will also reportedly be allowed under the proposals for the final stage of the road map out of lockdown.

Alongside the press conference, Health Secretary Sajid Javid will address the Commons on Monday to update MPs on any changes.

Mr Johnson is still set to issue a formal announcement on 12 July about whether 'Freedom Day' will go ahead as planned.

Ministers will also publish the results of reviews into the use of so-called vaccine passports and the future of social distancing guidance.

It comes after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC the government wants to replace coronavirus laws with "personal responsibility" after the 19 July "terminus date".

He said the success of the vaccine rollout in preventing serious illness has allowed the country to move into the "final furlong" of Covid restrictions.

The PM is reportedly preparing to abolish social distancing measures and drop the legal requirement to wear face coverings indoors and on public transport after 'Freedom Day'.

But officials confirmed that Mr Johnson would on Monday update the nation on the next steps on the one metre-plus rule in hospitality venues, the use of masks and working from home.

The government will also publish its taskforce reviews and give the latest on what is next for care home visits, No 10 said.

Read more: Mask wearing and social distancing 'to be voluntary after 19 July'

Read more: Pub boss says people are turning off NHS app to avoid being pinged

Speaking before his announcement, the UK leader appeared to confirm that the government will shift from legally enforced restrictions to giving people personal choices over measures.

"Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination programme, we are progressing cautiously through our road map," Mr Johnson said.

"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 judgment when going about our lives."

Alongside the PM's address to the nation, Health Secretary Sajid Javid will take responsibility for announcing the government's plans to Parliament.

It follows stern rebukes from Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in recent weeks for ministers deciding to make statements to the press before MPs.

The government said it will not be known until 12 July - seven days before the target date for easing restrictions - whether its four tests for unlocking have been met, given the need to consult the latest data.

Labour said the government must declare how many Covid-related deaths it is willing to accept in the face of rising cases of the Delta variant - also known as the Indian strain - if restrictions are abolished.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "We are all desperate to move on from restrictions but with infections continuing to rise steeply thanks to the Delta variant, Boris Johnson needs to outline the measures he will introduce, such as ventilation support for buildings and sick pay for isolation, to push cases down.

"Letting cases rise with no action means further pressure on the NHS, more sickness, disruption to education and risks a new variant emerging with a selection advantage.

"So far 'learning to live with the virus' had been no more than a ministerial slogan.

"Now we know this is the government's strategy. When Sajid Javid addresses the Commons, he must explain what level of mortality and cases of Long Covid he considers acceptable. And what support will be in place for the most deprived areas where cases are highest and vaccination rates lowest.

"These are important questions ministers now must answer."