‘FREEDOM Day’ is going ahead on Monday as planned – with social distancing scrapped, propping up the bar back on and double-jabbed Brits set to say “hola” to Spanish hols.
Freedom Day approaches – but there are still things Brits can’t do from Monday
However, some will remain in place as we come to step four of the PM’s roadmap out of Covid shutdowns.
Here’s what you need to know.
HOLIDAYS ARE BACK – SORT OF
Summer breaks have been thrown into chaos as countries move around the UK’s travel ‘traffic light’ system.
And the situation has become even more complicated after travellers returning from France were told they’ll have to comply with quarantine – even if they’re fully vaccinated.
Officials recently announced that double-jabbed Brits will be able to skip quarantine when travelling back from amber-listed countries.
In theory, it means countries on the current amber list – like Spain, Portugal and Greece – will finally reopen to sun-seekers desperate for a beach break.
But that’s become murkier in recent days.
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The big question mark hangs over trips to France. The country isn’t on the red list – but even English and Welsh tourists with both inoculations have been told they will still need to quarantine from Monday.
That’s because of concerns over “persistent” cases of the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.
The mutation may be more resistant to vaccines.
Meanwhile, Ibiza, Menorca and Majorca have been moved to the amber list from green, with the change coming into effect on Monday.
It won’t matter for fully-vaccinated Brits, who still won’t have to quarantine when they return home.
But many of those on breaks in the party islands are young and may have only had one vaccination.
The update is forcing those holidaymakers to race for tests and flights in a bid to get home on time.
Along with the Balearic Islands, the British Virgin Islands move from the green to amber on Monday.
Bulgaria and Hong Kong join the green list. Croatia and Taiwan join the green watchlist, meaning they’re at risk of being moved to amber.
Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone move to the strictest red list.
These changes apply to people travelling to all parts of the UK.
Scotland and Wales continue to advise against non-essential overseas travel. Northern Ireland advises people to “avoid travelling as much as possible”.
YOU CAN DITCH MASKS – MOSTLY
Masks are similarly complicated.
Under the law, Brits will no longer receive a fine if they don’t wear a face covering.
But the latest guidance, issued on Wednesday, says the Government “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces such as public transport.
Sadiq Khan said: “I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk.”
Outside of the capital, commuters will largely be encouraged to wear a mask while on a bus or train.
People in West and South Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations, while passengers using the Metro in the North East will also be required to wear a face covering.
Travellers using Metrolink in Manchester or the Heathrow Express will have to cover up, while the same is demanded for Eurostar passengers.
Meanwhile, those lucky – or brave – enough to be heading abroad are also likely to have to mask up, with BA, easyJet and Ryanair all insisting on coverings.
But other companies confirmed they will not make masks compulsory – including Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern.
Major bus and coach companies including National Express and Megabus have also followed suit and won’t insist on a mask.
However, supermarkets do want their customers to carry on wearing masks.
Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose say they’ll encourage shoppers and staff to keep up with their face coverings.
Finally, staff, patients and visitors to all NHS settings- including hospitals and GP surgeries – must continue to keep their masks on and socially distance too.
‘PINGDEMIC’ LINGERS ON
There’s lots of anger out there about the so-called Covid contact ‘pingdemic’.
Half a million people in England have been forced to self-isolate in the first week of July alone – amid claims neighbours are being told to stay home unnecessarily as they’re being ‘pinged’ through walls.
The NHS’s test and trace app is being blamed, with some claiming it’s simply too sensitive.
The plan as it currently stands is that double-jabbed Brits won’t have to isolate for 10 days after contact with an infected person from August.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid says those who test positive will still have to self-isolate for 10 days even if they’re jabbed.
And close contacts will still be urged to get a gold-standard PCR test to “get certainty” that they’re not infected.
But currently, if you’re pinged you’ve got to stay indoors – even if you give a negative test.
The number is more than 10 times as many as in the week to June 2. In the final week of April, only 39,875 close contacts were identified.
One in five hospitality and retail workers are self-isolating, while NHS hospitals are struggling with up 25 per cent of their staff off.
Meanwhile, in some areas, residents have been warned there aren’t enough people to get their bins – with Merseyside locals told there’ll be no collections until August.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrik told the LBC Radio: “We’re concerned about absences as a result of being pinged, for example.
“That’s one of the reasons why we do need a more proportionate approach.”
UBER BANS MASKLESS CUSTOMERS
Uber won’t accept customers without masks on Monday, despite the change in rules.
Bosses confirmed the rules will remain despite it no longer being required by law on transport or in shops when lockdown lifts.
Both drivers and passengers have been required to wear a mask during the pandemic for safety.
Ash Kebriti, UK general manager for the firm, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our drivers and the riders who use the Uber app.
“As cities continue to open up, we will ensure that face coverings or masks continue to be a mandatory requirement, unless exempt, when travelling with Uber across the UK.”
Uber won’t be allowing passengers without masksCredit: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
Lots of different travel companies will also insist on a mask before boardingCredit: Alamy
Meanwhile, there’s confusion over holidays in France as returning Brits are told to self-isolate – even if they’re double jabbedCredit: AFP
And the ‘pingdemic’ is going nowhere until at least AugustCredit: Getty