'Freedom Day' to go ahead on 19 July, but Government urges caution

By BigHospitalit

- Last updated on GMT

Freedom Day to go ahead on 19 July with social distancing and table ordering rules scrapped

Related tags lockdown Government Coronavirus

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that England will move to Step 4 of its plans to ease Coronavirus restrictions on the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ of 19 July, but that businesses and large events will be encouraged to use vaccine passports.

Speaking today (12 July) Javid told MPs that while he acknowledged that cases of Coronavirus were rising in England, propelled by the new Delta variant, he said that people should be encouraged by the fact that hospitalisations were far lower than at this point during the previous wave.

“To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?’,” he said. “There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus.”

The Health Secretary said that restrictions such as social distancing measures will be scrapped beyond 19 July and that people would no longer be compelled to wear face masks in public, but did recommended that people still wore them in crowded indoor settings.

A number of hospitality groups​, including Rare Restaurants, which operates the M and Gaucho steakhouse brands, and City Pub Group, have said that they planning to continue asking staff and customers to wear face masks and to also adhere to social distancing rules beyond 19 July.

From Monday 19 July nightclubs will be able to reopen and legal limits on the numbers of people who can meet indoors and outdoors will be removed. Hospitality businesses will also no longer have to offer table service only.

Reacting to the news, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Confirmation that social distancing measures will be lifted next Monday brings huge relief for hospitality venues hoping to finally head back towards normal trading in England.

"A week from now, for the first time in 16 months they will be able to move towards profitability, which is vital for the future of a sector beset by Covid-related debts.

“For profitability to be reached as soon as possible, it’s vital that businesses are able to reach their own solutions, to suit their settings, satisfy their risk assessments and optimise implementation costs while ensuring safety. The voluntary nature of the Government guidance should ensure that this is achievable.”

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