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‘Freedom Day’: how the rules are changing

Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules from July 19

Isabelle Aron
Written by
Isabelle Aron

As of today (July 19), England officially enters stage four of the roadmap out of lockdown, which means big changes in terms of Covid restrictions. It’s been contentiously dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ but many people are understandably cautious given the current rise in case numbers as a result of the Delta variant. With almost all legal restrictions lifted today, the government is shifting to encourage people to use ‘personal judgement to manage our own risk’.

Here’s what you need to know:

Masks It’s no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings, but the government guidance states that it ‘expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport’. On that note, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has enforced more strict rules when it comes to mask-wearing on public transport, which means it’s still mandatory to wear a face covering on all TfL buses, tubes, Overground and rail services. It’s worth noting that some businesses will still be enforcing mask-wearing, such as Waterstones.

Socialising The ‘rule of six’ for meeting people indoors is no more, and neither is the limit for meeting with 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants, pubs and bars The end of social distancing means an end to the one-metre-plus rule in hospitality venues and no legal requirement for table service. Masks are also optional. The government guidelines mean that precautions are very much in the hands of businesses now, so rules may vary from venue to venue. Find more info on that here.  

Events There are no limits on the number of people attending concerts, theatres or sports events. Any venues that were previously forced to close can now reopen.

Theatres Theatres are back, but not quite to normal. Many venues are choosing to slowly increase their capacity and theatregoers are now ‘strongly encouraged’ to keep wearing their masks after July 19. Vaccine passports are also being put into place at some London theatres. Last Friday, major operator the Ambassadors Theatre Group added a health and safety update requiring ticketholders to provide proof of double vaccination status or a negative lateral flow test as of July 19. 

Clubs Having been shut since March 2020, clubs are back. And with restrictions easing today, many London clubs opened just after midnight last night. Venues are being encouraged to use the NHS Covid Pass to check that people are fully vaccinated, but there’s no legal requirement to do so.

Weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events There are now no limits on the number of guests who can attend, no requirement for table service and no restrictions on singing or dancing.

If you do feel comfortable going out, here are the best things to book.

And check out these club nights to book this summer.

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