Boris Johnson: What Are the Rules for U.K. Freedom Day?

Boris Johnson announced the U.K. would be enjoying Freedom Day on July 19, meaning many state-mandated rules would be lifted. However, he has since been forced to isolate until July 26 due to one of his cabinet ministers testing positive for coronavirus.

As a result, he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak may not be able to enjoy the so-called Freedom Day but he did release a video from his isolation to implore U.K. residents to be cautious as things begin to reopen.

He said in a video on his Twitter account: "We're doing a big opening up and that's quite rightly. If we don't do it now, then we will be opening up in the autumn, the winter months when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather.

"We would lose the firebreak we get with the school holidays. We have to ask ourselves, 'If we don't do it now, will we ever do it?'

"So this is the right moment but we've got to do it cautiously. We have got to remember that this virus is, sadly, still out there and cases are rising as we see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant."

Like so many people I've been pinged by NHS Test and Trace as I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and I will be self-isolating until Monday 26th July.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 18, 2021

He went on to describe how the vaccination program has "severely weakened the link" between cases and hospitalizations.

But while Johnson and Sunak await their Freedom Day for another week, what can the rest of the U.K. expect?

The Rules for Freedom Day in the U.K.

The main thing to come into place with Freedom Day, July 19, is that there will be no rules with a legal mandate.

This means making masks mandatory in stores and on public transport, and restrictions on the number of people at events will be lifted.

Individual business owners can mandate within their own premises, but there is no legal requirement for service users to follow their guidelines.

Many businesses such as Transport for London, the public transport network in the capital city, has said wearing a mask will be a "condition of travel," and they are permitted to stop people from using their services without masks.

Venues forced to close during COVID-19 such as nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, and venues with capacity limits such as gigs and festivals will be able to take place at full capacity.

This also means private events like weddings, funerals and other parties can take place without any limits on the number of people in attendance.

Workers will not be required to work from home, and social distancing rules, known as the one-meter plus rule, will be lifted.

The only time where one-meter plus will remain in place is in airports, to avoid mixing between those arriving from high-risk countries, and when self-isolating after receiving a positive COVID-19 result.

At the moment, there is little guidance for those who are clinically vulnerable, such as those with immunity-limiting conditions, and charities are urging Johnson to mandate some restrictions such as mask-wearing to help these people feel safe.

An open letter from a group of U.K. cancer charities urged citizens to consider the safety of those who are vulnerable as Freedom Day arrives, saying: "Over the last few months, many people with cancer have been starting to get back to normal, meeting up with their friends outdoors or sitting outside at cafes and restaurants.

"They have felt able to do this because the people around them have been wearing masks and keeping their distance.

"The more people exercise their freedom to stop wearing masks and stop social distancing, the more people with cancer will feel they have to stop their normal activities, and will feel more worried when they have to do things like use public transport."

Travel restrictions remain much the same, except those who have received a double vaccination will not have to quarantine after returning from countries on the green or amber lists.

The changes to rules come after, this weekend, Johnson and Sunak made a substantial U-turn over their requirement to isolate on having contact with someone with COVID-19.

Downing Street announced the Prime Minister and Chancellor would not be isolating as all staff at No.10 were taking part in a pilot scheme, which meant they would undertake daily testing rather than quarantine.

This decision was met with uproar from other M.P.s, including the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer.

Boris Johnson should be setting an example.

Instead, he gives himself and his Chancellor preferential treatment. It’s a slap in the face to everyone who has made sacrifices to self isolate.

It can't be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) July 18, 2021

This Conservative Government is in chaos.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tried to fix the rules yet again to benefit themselves.

They only backtracked when they got found out.

They’re like failed bank robbers who only offered to give the money back because they’ve been caught.

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) July 18, 2021

Starmer wrote on Twitter: "Boris Johnson should be setting an example.

"Instead, he gives himself and his Chancellor preferential treatment. It's a slap in the face to everyone who has made sacrifices to self-isolate.

"It can't be one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else."

After Johnson and Sunak announced they would be isolating, after all, Starmer called them "failed bank robbers who only offered to give the money back because they've been caught."

Johnson and Sunak will isolate until July 26, after Home Secretary Sajid Javid received a positive coronavirus test.

Cases of the Delta variant have been rising in the U.K., with official statistics showing how cases have risen from one case per 160 people to one case per 95 people in England in just one week.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson is now isolating as Freedom Day begins in the U.K. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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