Freedom Day 2021: What coronavirus lockdown rules are due to change on July 19?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a COVID-19 media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a COVID-19 media briefing in Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to officially confirm on Monday details of the July 19 lockdown easing 'Freedom Day'. 

Coronavirus restrictions are set to end in England on the PM's new 'terminus date' after the government initially delayed moving to Step 4 of lockdown easing on June 21 by four weeks.

The government's COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021 document sets out the shape of the final step (Step 4) and beyond as the country transitions towards learning to live with COVID-19.

At Step 4, the final stage of the roadmap, the government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact and life events, and all venues currently closed can safely reopen with no capacity limits, such as nightclubs.

Social distancing is to end, the wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory, there will be no legal limits on gatherings, and the guidance to work from home where possible will also be relaxed. 

The government will instead ask people to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others.

In England, from August 16, if you are fully vaccinated or under 18 you will not need to self-isolate following close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You will still need to take a PCR test and if it’s positive you will need to self-isolate.


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When is lockdown Freedom Day 2021?

Subject to a final review of the data this weekend, legal restrictions will end on Monday, July 19.

This is the government's new planned Freedom Day, when COVID-19 rules will end as the country moves to Step 4 of England's roadmap out of lockdown.

A final decision will be announced on July 12 if this move can proceed on July 19, after the government has assessed the four tests again.

On June 14, the Prime Minister announced a four-week pause at Step 3, as a result of the additional risk and uncertainty caused by the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Step 4 was pushed back to allow for a greater number of people to receive their second coronavirus jabs. More than 34 millions adults are now fully vaccinated in the UK.

Despite the increase in coronavirus cases – 35,707 people tested positive on data released on July 9 – the Prime Minister is expected to confirm next week that face coverings will no longer be required by law, and it will be up to individuals to make their own choice.

The government says vaccines are significantly reducing the link between infections and severe disease and death.


What are the Step 4 rules? 

  • All remaining limits on social contact – currently six people or two households indoors, or 30 people outdoors – will be removed. There will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
  • All venues currently closed will be able to open, including nightclubs, and there will be no legal requirement for table service in hospitality settings.
  • Large events, such as music concerts, festivals and sporting events, can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
  • All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.
  • COVID-status certification will not be required in law as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting at the present time, whether that be pub, restaurant, cinema, theatre or sports ground. However, organisations can choose to ask visitors for proof of COVID-status, as long as they meet existing legal obligations including under equality law.
  • Face coverings will no longer be legally required in shops, schools, hospitality, or on public transport. However, guidance will be in place to suggest where people might choose to wear one, such as where you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet in enclosed and crowded places.
  • Social distancing rules – 2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations – will be lifted, other than in specific places.
  • Social distancing will only be required in limited circumstances, such as ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control, in order to manage the risk of new variants coming into the country. People who are self-isolating should also continue to socially distance from others, particularly where they have had a positive test.
  • Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted, meaning pubs and restaurant can return to normal.
  • ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces.
  • The government will no longer instruct people to work from home, and employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.
  • Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.
  • Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly.

Lifting restrictions does not mean that the risks from COVID-19 have disappeared, as the recent increase in positive tests highlights.

The government is to provide advisory guidance on how people can manage the risks to themselves and to others.

Measures include:

  • Meeting in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open.
  • Wearing a face covering where they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
  • Washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
  • Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community.
  • Considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status.

The government will continue to urge people to get vaccinated, and to self-isolate and get tested if they have symptoms.

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