As COVID cases continue to surge across the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the repeal of certain COVID-19 measures from July the 19th onwards including social distancing and government mandates on masks. However, self-isolation rules and test-and-trace will remain in place and no further information was given on the rules which will govern the new academic year. 

In a press conference today, Johnson affirmed that all social-distancing rules will be removed, and national mask-mandates repealed two weeks from now. Much of the speech was leaked beforehand and these changes are expected be given the final green light on July 12. However, the government seems certain that restrictions on capacity for cinemas, nightclubs, theatres, and concert will be lifted, as will the requirement for mandatory table service.  

Mask use will become entirely voluntary, although private companies – including airlines and other travel providers – will be free to continue to require them. The rules governing international travel remain unchanged, although an announcement from Grant Schnapps, transport secretary, is expected later this week. 

The larger change in government policy is not without controversy. Johnson himself announced that daily COVID cases could reach 50,000 within a fortnight and even as the mantra becomes “living with COVID”, it is unclear what the long-term public health implications of such a policy will be.  Johnson was submitted to questions from the public, many of whom voiced concerns with this policy.

Government policy on University education in the new academic year was unremarked upon in Boris Johnson’s press conference.

Image Credit: International Atomic Energy Agency Director General/CC BY 2.0

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