JULY 19 – dubbed England’s “Freedom Day” – is the date the British government ends all legal, social and economic restrictions imposed to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After months of constraints, the country has finally reached the last step in the government’s unlocking roadmap – and here’s all you need to know about Freedom Day.
Celebrations across the UK began at midnight on July 19 as the nation entered Freedom DayCredit: AP
What does Freedom Day mean?
Freedom Day is the name given to the ending of all restrictions of the coronavirus lockdown and a return to “normal” life.
The UK had given June 21 as its grand reopening day; however, the rise in Covid cases and hospitalisations forced the government to postpone the date by four weeks.
After months of pandemic-related constraints, the country has been gradually easing through stages of the government’s roadmap, which was set out in February.
The country progressed through stages one to three on March 8, April 12 and May 17 .
Freedom Day is the ending of all legal limits on social contact as well as the reopening of all remaining premises such as nightclubs and larger events.
Virtually all restrictions were lifted as of midnight, but Freedom Day has been met with some back-clash.Credit: AFP
When is Freedom Day?
It’s on July 19, 2021.
PM Johnson and his government have been reluctant to keep restrictions in place any longer, provided the data support it.
This has included evaluating the success of the nation’s vaccination program and the impact Covid-19 cases have on the National Health Service (NHS).
The Government’s aim to have rolled out a double-dose of vaccine to two-thirds of adults by July 19 in a drive to build up national immunity against all variants of Covid-19 has been met – therefore the nation has been given the green light to enter the next stage of the roadmap.
However, there has been some backlash towards Freedom Day, with many believing it is too early to lift all restrictions.
Britain has the seventh highest death toll in the world, and is forecast to soon have more new infections each day than it did at the height of a second wave of the virus earlier in 2021.
What lockdown rules have changed on Freedom Day?
Capacity limits in shops, bars and restaurants, and rules limiting the number of people who can socialise together have also been lifted.
This means all social distancing limits are over, with no more rule of six or one-metre plus restrictions – and groups of more than six people from different households will be able to mingle indoors and outdoors.
Other businesses such as nightclubs can welcome back party-goers to the dance floors.
Freedom Day means the scrapping of all physical distancing guidelines and mask wearing is optional except on public transport, where in London it remains compulsory and in other parts of England, remains advised.