Boris Johnson confirms June 21 ‘freedom day’ delay – which restrictions will be in place?

London: Anti-lockdown protesters gather at Downing Street

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to a Downing Street press conference on Monday to announce, following heavy speculation, that the last point of his lockdown easing roadmap will be delayed for four weeks. June 21 was hailed by some as ‘freedom day’ as it was anticipated all lockdown restrictions would be eased at this point, but an exponential rise in cases due to the Delta variant first identified in India, means that’s now been pushed back until July.

There will be a two-week review of the delay due to take place on June 28.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said if the data is “much better than expected”, restrictions could be eased a few weeks early on Monday, July 5.

However, the spokesperson emphasised this is an “unlikely” outcome given the spike in infections seen in recent weeks.

There is no guarantee step four of lockdown easing won’t be delayed again, with the move to step four only confirmed on July 12.

But Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister is confident we will not need any more than a four week delay.”

They added that the extension means “thousands of deaths can be prevented” at any given time as the Government races to vaccinate more people.

The spokesperson continued: “As the Chief Medical Officer has said, at some stage we are going to have to live with this virus as do with flu.

“But when we have effective vaccines and a v variant that needs two doses for maximum protection, it’s right to allow more time to save lives.”

Which restrictions will remain in place?

A number of restrictions which were due to be eased on June 21 will remain in place amid the delay.

Mask wearing will remain in place for the length of the delay as rules regarding covering your face in shops and public transport won’t be lifted on the intended date.

Advice to work from home wherever possible will continue to apply after June 21 too, thanks to the delay in easing restrictions.

Reviews regarding social distancing and Covid certification or vaccine passports had been due to be published ahead of step four, but this won’t be happening during the expected timeframe.

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Instead, the outcome of these reviews has been delayed well and they’ll be published whenever step four is implemented.

There will be no changes to indoor hospitality rules, but this also means no changes to enable large events to go ahead under blanket restrictions without social distancing.

However, the Government is looking at holding more event research pilots in an effort to help theatres and similar venues in the long run.

A Number 10 spokesperson said the Government “appreciate the pressure that some sectors are under”.

Weddings are one aspect of life that will change after June 21, as the 30-person limit will be removed from the given date despite step four being delayed.

This means no people limits on either receptions or ceremonies, both outdoors and indoors.

Instead, capacity limits will be capped at the highest number of people venues can accommodate while still adhering to Covid-secure guidelines – an approach that’s already being taken with funerals.

The 30-person limit on wakes and other commemorative events will also be lifted from June 21, following the same rules as weddings.

Rules on visits outside care homes will be relaxed from the intended date, but it’s not yet known if this will enable residents to stay overnight with friends and family.

Further guidelines on care homes and the rules surrounding them is due to be published by the Department of Health and Social Care in the coming days.

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