DRINKERS will be back standing at the bar ordering pints in TWO weeks time, Boris Johnson will declare today.
The Prime Minister will address the nation this afternoon to set out his plans for Freedom Day – set for July 19 – that will see masks become voluntary in almost all settings and the end of table service in pubs and bars.
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Life will "return to normality as far as possible" with the one-metre plus social distancing rule lifted so punters can mingle and stand once again and will not need to scan QR to enter venues.
And the rules telling people to avoid the office if they can will be changed to allow firms to choose how and where people work from July 19.
Nightclubs will get the green-light to reopen without masks, although Brits will be urged to wear them in enclosed spaces like buses and trains – but only if they want to – with no fines for refusing.
Tomorrow, the Government will finally publish their long awaited review into social distancing and vaccine passports – with widespread domestic use expected to be rejected.
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Mass events outdoors like full stadiums and festivals are also expected to get the go ahead, but with some element of testing or proof of vaccination.
But plans for double jabbed Brits to no longer have to isolate after coming into contact with a Covid victim and mass-testing to replace bubbles that sees thousands of school kids sent home every week will NOT be announced today.
A final decision on replacing both of those measures could come within days subject to Cabinet signing them off.
And The Sun understands travel rules for fully vaccinated to visit amber-list countries without the need to quarantine are also set to be updated later in the week.
We’re going to now move into a period where there won't be legal restrictions, the state won't be telling you what to do
Freedom Day will go ahead on July 19, subject to a final review in seven days time – even though cases continue to rise.
Yesterday, another 24,258 positive cases were confirmed – but only 15 deaths were reported down nearly two per cent on week on week.
Hospitalisations were up 24 per cent, with 1,953 admitted suffering from the disease in the last seven days.
But with the arrival of upbeat new Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who declared on Sunday that lifting lockdown will actually help suffering Brits be HEALTHIER as well as boost the economy – Boris Johnson has won his battle against Cabinet naysayers and overly cautious docs to push on for a “maximalist” approach to lifting Lockdown when Freedom Day comes.
Yesterday top Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick declared the data was looking “very promising” for a July 19 to go ahead, and top NHS boss Stephen Powis agreed the vaccine had “weakened” the link between Covid cases and deaths.
Mr Jenrick confirmed the Freedom Day good news, telling TV interviews: "We’re going to now move into a period where there won't be legal restrictions, the state won't be telling you what to do".
He added: “You will want to exercise a degree of personal responsibility and judgement – different people will come to different conclusions on things like masks, for example" .
The PM is expected to say: “Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination programme, we are progressing cautiously through our roadmap. Today we will set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach step 4.
But Mr Johnson will warn the nation that cases will continue to soar and hospitalisations and deaths WILL go up in the coming weeks and months – but the time has come to live with the virus like the flu as the jab has slashed serious illness and deaths from Covid.
PM: PANDEMIC 'NOT OVER'
He will add: “I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks.
“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgement when going about our lives.”
As 20,000 a year die from influenza, with PM likely to face a barrage of questions on what he feels is an acceptable number of annual Covid deaths.
Mr Johnson also faces a rearguard action from medics who want mask wearing to continue for months to come yet.
Professor Adam Finn, from the Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said mask wearing is extremely valuable under certain circumstances and he does not plan to ditch his masks this month.
He told Sky News: "Well on a personal level I shall certainly be continuing to wear a mask if I've got any symptoms or if I'm in an enclosed space with lots of other people for a prolonged period of time, indefinitely in fact."
"So I think mask wearing is obviously something we've learned is extremely valuable to do under certain circumstances. That doesn't mean I'll wear a mask all the time but it does mean I will some of the time."
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said he believed people would naturally be more cautious and may continue to wear face masks out of choice.
He told Andrew Marr: "I think some people will choose to be more cautious. Some people may choose to wear face masks in particular circumstances, such as crowded environments, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Those habits to reduce infections are a good thing to keep."
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However, booster jab plans – with the most vulnerable given a third covid jab alongside their flu shot – are hoped to see off the worst return of Covid in the winter months,
SAGE scientist Dr Mike Tildesley, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that widespread return to restrictions would not be needed: "Hopefully we'll be well prepared moving forward and we won't need any sort of restrictions to be put in place as we move into the autumn and winter."
He added: "I hope when we move into the autumn we can start to have a little bit more of what I call the flu relationship with Covid."
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