Almost all of England’s coronavirus restrictions are set to end from July 19, after lockdown measures were extended by a further four weeks to control the spread of the Delta variant.
The rule of six indoors, rule of 30 outdoors, one-metre social distancing in pubs, ban on nightclubs and at least some legal face masks laws are all likely to be dropped, according to Daily Mail reports on July 2.
A final decision is reportedly not going to be made until 12 July, with Boris Johnson cautioning that there "may be some extra things we have to do" in terms of restrictions.
However, Mr Johnson said on July 1 that he wants the UK to go back to normal "as close as possible", though he warned that rising cases has thrown the extent to which our freedoms will be restored into doubt, warning that some "extra precautions" will be required after July 19.
Despite concerns over the Delta variant, Sajid Javid, the newly-appointed Health Secretary, said in his press conference on June 28 that July 19 will be "the start of an exciting new journey for our country".
Mr Javid said that he would not be looking to extend England’s lockdown further, stating that "with the numbers heading in the right direction… July 19 remains our target date."
He said: "Make no mistake, the restrictions on our freedoms must come to an end. We owe it to the British people,… not to wait a moment longer than we need to."
The former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was replaced in the role after he was caught engaging in an affair and breaking social distancing rules.
Meanwhile, laws on face masks and social distancing are expected to be lifted by mid-July but The Telegraph understands that the Government will keep advising people to use these measures when ordering in bars and pubs.
The former chancellor admitted that July 19 would see the introduction of Step Four of England’s roadmap – but that the specifics "about all restrictions or which restrictions" will be set out in the coming days.
Easing up restrictions in England comes amid the UK’s successful vaccination roll-out, which has seen over 85 per cent of the population receive a first dose and more than 33 million become fully inoculated.
Is the UK on track to hit vaccination targets?
However, those wishing to go on holiday may face further restrictions. Although the UK has added more countries, such as Malta, to the Government’s green travel list, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged EU nations to introduce mandatory quarantines for all travelling Britons.
It comes as more than 20 countries including France, Italy and Austria are on track to join the UK’s green list and open to British holidaymakers this month, data has revealed.
The 22 nations – primarily in Europe – all meet the threshold for inclusion on the quarantine-free green list, according to the analysis.
But travel across Europe remains restricted. Although the UK gave Malta the green light for travellers, the country will now refuse entry to Britons who are not fully inoculated.
Elsewhere in Spain, tourists from the UK will need to prove they’ve had both doses of the vaccine or a negative PCR test upon arrival.
While Portugal remains on the amber list for travel, the country will now be requiring travellers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival unless they can prove they received their second dose of the vaccine a fortnight prior to their visit.
The Prime Minister said on June 21 that Britons faced a “difficult year for travel” regardless of whether he pressed ahead with plans to scrap travel quarantine rules for double-jabbed Britons.
But in more positive news, Angela Merkel said Germany will soon relax quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated Britons.
Speaking at a press conference with Boris Johnson on July 2, the German chancellor said: “In the foreseeable future, those who have had double-jabs will be able to travel again without quarantine."
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister added that there is “no reason” why Britons would be excluded from the EU’s travel passport scheme because they had received AstraZeneca Covid-19 doses made in India. Mr Johnson said he was “very confident” the issue would not be a problem.
This comes amid reports that up to five million Britons who had received certain doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – identifiable by the batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003 – could be locked out of European countries because their vaccine was not recognised by the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme.
The European Commission also said it is working to allow acceptance of the vaccines and is “in discussion with the member states to see which is the best approach to follow”.
On June 24, ministers were accused of making summer travel more "complex and confusing" after warning holidaymakers that their trips could be scuppered at the last minute.
Travel countries on the red, green and amber list
It came as UK cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 have risen almost four-fold in less than a month, new data shows.
Public Health England figures show a total of 161,981 confirmed and probable cases of Delta variant have now been identified in the UK, as of July 2, up by 50,824, or 46 per cent, on the previous week.
The variant is now the dominant strain in the UK and the latest scientific analysis suggests the variant is between 40 per cent and 80 per cent more transmissible than other Covid strains..
England’s R rate has decreased slightly to 1.1 to 1.3, as of July 2, from its previous estimate of 1.2 to 1.4.
An R value between 1.3 and 1.3 means that, on average, every 10 people with Covid-19 will infect between 11 and 13 other people.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director, also said a further lockdown may be needed this winter to stop hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority
As a result of the extension of lockdown measures, social distancing, mask wearing and limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place for now, nightclubs will stay shut, and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.
But there are some exemptions, with the cap on wedding guests no longer applying. Instead, individual venues will have their own Covid-secure capacity limits.
Guidance issued by the Government for weddings of more than 30 people puts the onus on the hosts, who “may be the couple”, to ensure they are Covid-compliant.
The new rules require organisers to complete a risk assessment form before a marriage takes place, with the threat of £10,000 fines if guests break social distancing rules.
Prior to his resignation, Mr Hancock confirmed on June 21 plans to scrap the requirement for people who have had two Covid-19 jabs and come into contact with an infected person to isolate for 10 days.
Under the plan to revise quarantine restrictions, the 10-day isolation period could be axed in favour of daily lateral flow tests.
Care home residents who leave a site will also not have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return, a change some campaigners have been seeking.
As per the rest of the roadmap journey, an update will take place two weeks into the four-week delay, to see whether the Covid situation has improved. However, Downing Street officials said it was "unlikely" the plan would change then.
Number 10 sources said Mr Johnson was "confident" that only a four-week delay will be needed, although doubts remain given the sharp rises in Covid cases and hospitalisations, with the PM calling July 19 a "terminus" and not giving a "cast iron guarantee" that lockdown measures will end on this date.
Cases would reach the January peak next month
The decision to extend lockdow measures was taken after scientific modelling for the Government suggested a third wave of cases could see hospitalisations hit the peak seen in the first wave.
But it has emerged that modelling used by the Government to push back the June 21 reopening was based on out-of-date estimates of vaccine effectiveness, which assumed far fewer people protected by the jabs.
A government advisor has also admitted that modelling that helped persuade the Government to delay the June 21 reopening was overly pessimistic and the lockdown lifting should "possibly" have gone ahead on time.
Dr Mike Tildesley, an epidemiologist from Warwick University, said Britain had been in a "much better situation than we thought" when his group released models suggesting third wave deaths could hit 72,000.
Downing Street is arguing that the four-week delay allows the Government to vaccinate millions more people, with the rollout strategy tweaked in an attempt to maximise protection.
The target for offering the first Covid vaccine dose has been brought forward from the end of July to July 19, meaning all adults should be offered at least one jab by the new final reopening date.
How many more could we vaccinated with the delay to June 21?
Meanwhile, the Treasury is not announcing any new financial support despite the four-week delay, to the frustration of business industry leaders who have demanded extra help.
From July 1 the Government will only cover 70 per cent of wages of furloughed workers instead of 80 per cent, with businesses having to pick up the extra 10 per cent.
Hospitality and leisure companies will also have to start paying a third of their business rates bills from the start of July, ending more than a year of their rates being waived.
A Treasury source argued that more than £1 billion of grants are still available for companies – especially nightclubs, which cannot open – affected by the pandemic from local authorities. "We need to keep a balance in order to ensure we can recover strongly," the source said.