What is the Government guidance on staying safe from Covid after unlocking?

The Government announced this week it would be lifting most legal coronavirus restrictions in England as of July 19, when it intends to move to Step 4 of its pandemic recovery road map.

Boris Johnson said he believed the country is ready for the removal of rules following the successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. But he warned the public must remain “cautious” and use their own “personal judgment”.

Guidance released by No 10 sets out how it hopes people will behave in the months to follow.

– Social distancing

For the first time since March 2020, the two-metre rule is set to no longer be enforced.

Coronavirus – Fri Jul 31, 2020
Social distancing measures are to be lifted for the first time since the pandemic began (Danny Lawson/PA)

There will also be no limit on the number of people you can meet, including at weddings, funerals, places of worship or any type of celebration or event.

However, people are advised to still meet outdoors when possible, and if meeting in enclosed spaces to remember to let fresh air circulate.

Close contact with those you do not live with should also be limited, increasing any close contact gradually.

Businesses such as pubs and restaurants will also not have to keep social distancing measures in place but are advised to do so where possible to limit contact between people and keep up screens and barriers.

– Face masks

England has taken a different stance on face masks to the devolved nations in no longer making it a legal requirement to wear one in most settings from next week.

But the Government said it “expects and recommends” that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.

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London mayor Sadiq Khan has moved to make face masks a “condition of carriage”, meaning wearing one will remain mandatory while travelling on the capital’s transport network.

People in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the combined authorities, while passengers using the Metro in the North East will also be required to wear a face covering after restrictions are lifted.

Face coverings will also remain compulsory on Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services.

Shoppers have also been advised to keep wearing masks, with the same advice being given to both customers and workers in crowded, enclosed spaces.

– Working from home

A “gradual return to work over the summer” is what is now recommended, as the order to work from home if you can is removed.

Staff or customers who feel ill should still not attend a workplace or venue and if they develop even mild coronavirus symptoms, they should self-isolate at home and book a test and wait for a negative result before heading back to work.

Employers still have a legal duty under health and safety legislation to manage the risk of Covid-19 for staff and customers within their work setting.

Measures such as cleaning surfaces and ventilating areas should still be undertaken.

– Clinically vulnerable

Extremely vulnerable people, such as those with cancer or who have severe respiratory conditions, are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else.

But they are advised to consider additional precautions such as limiting contact with people they do not usually meet.

– Vaccine passports

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed so-called vaccine passports would not be made compulsory but organisations in higher risk settings are encouraged to make them a condition of entry.

The NHS Covid Pass, which is available through the NHS app, is being promoted as a way individuals can demonstrate their status as being at a lower risk of transmitting the virus through full vaccination, a negative test or natural immunity.

The NHS Track and Trace app on a mobile phone
The NHS Track and Trace app (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Government has warned it will consider making the pass mandatory at a later date.

Businesses and customers are similarly encouraged to keep displaying and checking in with QR codes displayed in venues with the NHS Covid-19 app.

– Testing

Self-isolating for 10 days when testing positive for coronavirus or contacted by the NHS Track and Trace app is still required by law.

The Government has also put out further guidance about how it would like people to use tests to better protect themselves and others.

It is recommended to take two free rapid lateral flow tests a week even if you do not have any symptoms to minimise the chances of spreading the virus without knowing it. If you develop symptoms you should self-isolate and then take a PCR test.