The majority of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions affecting England will be lifted on July 19, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
After 16 months of lockdown measures to combat COVID-19, Johnson said he anticipated life to return to normalcy shortly.
“We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, we must ask ourselves, when will we be able to return to normal?” Johnson said at a press conference.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to announce students will return to full in-person instruction soon.
British officials last extended lockdown measures on June 14.
Johnson’s announcement came as 50,000 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths were reported in Britain.
The long-awaited lifting of lockdown limitations means an end to the laws that limit attendance at both small events like weddings and huge facilities like sports stadiums.
It will also abolish the necessity to wear masks indoors, as well as social distancing regulations and COVID-19 registration at enterprises.
Despite a troubling spike in the number of new cases of the extremely infectious Delta form of the coronavirus, the prime minister stated that the objective of lowering regulations is to “move from a universal government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility,”
“Obviously,” he added, “if we do find another variant that doesn’t respond to the vaccines, if, heaven forbid, some really awful new bugs should appear, then clearly we will have to take whatever steps we need to do to protect the public.”
The lifting of restrictions applies only to England. The rest of the United Kingdom — Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales — are governed by their own lockdown measures.
The Scottish government has enacted legislation that will prolong the use of masks until August 9. COVID-19 will be discussed in a meeting of Welsh ministers on July 15.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has lately relaxed some lockdown measures, and a conference is scheduled for this week to discuss the remaining restrictions.
The steps come as Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is in self-isolation after being in touch with an infected individual for an extended period of time.
Due to the proliferation of the Delta version throughout the country, Hong Kong imposed a restriction on British flights last week.