Boris Johnson has today said that England must learn to live with Covid-19. From 19th July the one-metre plus edict and the work from home order will be dropped, with mask wearing no longer mandatory. Pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at bar However, decisions on school bubbles and quarantine rules for double-jabbed to ‘amber list’ countries will be announced later this week
From July 19th wearing masks will become voluntary everywhere in England apart from hospitals and other health facilities. Public transport passengers, shoppers and those visiting pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres will no longer be required by law to cover up. However, people may still be encouraged to wear masks in some enclosed places where they come into close contact with each other, for example on buses, trains and the London Tube.
Also from 19th July the mandatory table service rules in England will be scrapped, meaning drinkers will be able to order at the bar again in pubs. Hospitality venues in England will no longer be required to collect track and trace data. Businesses won’t have to ask customers to scan a QR code using the NHS phone app on entry or to hand over their contact details, although they will have the option of continuing to do so if they wish.
And the official ‘work from home if you can’ guidance will be scrapped in England. But it will be left up to employers and their staff to decide whether they have to go back to their desks. Ministers will not launch a campaign encouraging staff back to the office and are resigned to there not being a mass return to workplaces this summer.
In response, Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer has accused Mr Johnson of being ‘reckless’ by planning to remove all legal coronavirus restrictions at once and said mask wearing should remain. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has also demanded a rethink to protect the vulnerable, whilst the Unite Union have warned it would be ‘gross negligence’ to drop the requirement. Unite National Officer For Passenger Transport, Bobby Morton added, ‘Rates of infection are continuing to increase and not only does mask wearing reduce transmissions, it helps provide reassurance to drivers and to passengers who are nervous about using public transport. The idea of personal responsibility and hoping that people will wear masks is absolutely ridiculous, members are already reporting there is an increase in passengers ignoring the rules on mask wearing.’
These views seems to be supported by a YouGov poll which has found 71 per cent of Britons still want face masks to be mandatory on public transport, while only 21 per cent back dropping the rule.