July 19th

Cry Freedom: Nearly All Covid Rules to be Ditched on July 19th

Almost all Coronavirus rules – including limits on the number of people who can meet together, the wearing of face masks, and social distancing in pubs and bars – will be ditched as part of step four of the roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England. Sky News has more.

The Government expects to push ahead with step four of its lockdown-lifting roadmap on July 19th, when Boris Johnson wants to move away from ministerial edicts for managing the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, people in England will be encouraged to use their personal judgement on the risks of infection – with the Prime Minister wishing to see a new way of living with the virus.

A final decision on whether to go ahead with the last phase of the roadmap will be taken in a week’s time, following a review of the latest data and if the government’s tests for removing restrictions are being met.

Should step four proceed on 19 July, it will see:

• No more limits on social contact to allow people to gather in groups of any size

• The removal of the “one metre-plus” rule in almost all settings, apart from specific places such as airports

• All remaining businesses, including nightclubs, able to re-open

• No capacity caps on large scale events, such as sports matches or concerts

• No more regulations on wearing face masks in shops or on public transport

• The Government will no longer require people to work from home

• No more limits on the number of people who are able to visit care home residents

The Government has also chosen not to impose the use of domestic COVID “passports” for people to demonstrate their vaccination or testing status when attending pubs, bars and restaurants or other venues.

There will be further announcements this week on whether schools and colleges will continue to have to “bubble” pupils, as well as on whether double-jabbed people will still have to self-isolate after contact with an infected person or on their return from an “amber list” country.

However, under those rules being retained, it will still be a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, the one-metre plus rule will continue in specific places such as airports to prevent passengers from different destinations from mixing, and infection control measures will remain in place in care homes.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid: “We Are Going to Have to Find Ways to Cope With Covid, Just as We Do With Flu”

Signalling a change in tone and perhaps strategy, new Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that “we are going to have to learn to accept Covid and find ways to cope with it, just as we do with flu”. Writing in tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday, according to a preview tweet from Freddie Sayers, Javid says that while the economic arguments for reopening are well known, “for me the health case is equally compelling”, pointing to record NHS backlogs that are getting worse.

In a possible nod towards the “new normal”, he adds: “We need to build on the changes we’ve all embraced in the pandemic.” However, the examples he gives are not contentious for sceptics: improving the delivery of healthcare using NHS 111, the NHS app and pharmacies.

It’s certainly an encouraging message from the new Health Secretary, and better than anything we ever heard from Matt Hancock. Now for the hard bit: putting it into action, against the doom-mongers on SAGE, the vested interests of those profiting from the emergency, the psychological comforts of those who seem to like the idea of permanent restrictions, and the unions for whom no imposition on others is too great to achieve a slight reduction of risk.

Already there is the notable absence of the promised review of the lockdown extension in time for a possible July 5th reopening, which was supposed to appear on June 28th. Boris Johnson appeared to rule it out last week but there has been no official announcement and July 5th is this Monday. It seems that we are just supposed to assume it isn’t happening.