July 19th 2021, a date that will stick in lots of peoples minds as “Freedom Day”. The day when, in England, all covid restrictions are lifted and the country has opened up again fully. The day we have longed for since it all began back in March 2020. The day we are excited about, or the day we are scared of? Fully lifting all covid restrictions is being met with a mixed view. Some people think it is time we accept the virus is here and move on, others fear the social mixing and easing of face-covering rules will cause a rise in cases.
What is important to remember is that everyone’s views are acceptable, and to remember that they are people’s opinions. It does not matter if something feels or thinks differently to you about the lockdown easing because, for every person who is thrilled about it, there is a person who is worried. What we need to remember is what has changed, and how can we still feel safe.
What Has Changed with the easing of covid restrictions?
Most legal restrictions have been removed on July 19th 2021 as England has moved into Step 4 of the Government’s road map.
- – You do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with and there are no limits on the number of people you can meet.
- – The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can.
- – The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted.
- – There is no limit on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events (including receptions and celebrations).
- – There is no requirement for table service at life events, no restrictions on singing or dancing and no restrictions on group sizes for attending communal worship.
- – All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues can reopen.
- – All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events have been lifted.
- – Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars are no longer required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.
- – Fully vaccinated people returning to England from amber list countries will not need to quarantine.
- – There are no restrictions on travel within England.
What Can I Do To Stay Safe?
There are lots of things that each of us can do to feel and stay safe as the country opens up again. Remember, it is ok if you do not want to immediately start mixing and socialising in large groups, and it is also ok if you know people who do. But, there are things that each of us can do to help make everyone feel and stay safe, whatever we chose to do.
- #1 Limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact with others gradually. If you are planning an event, maybe think about still minimising numbers or the duration of the event if possible. If you are part of a group that is planning to meet regularly, think of a way to still include people who aren’t ready for face to face contact.
- #2 When you are meeting people, still try to meet outdoors if possible (especially as we are having such good weather!) or if indoors, remember to have lots of fresh air in the house by opening windows.
- #3 If you are working from home, or an employer with employees working from home, then try to gradually return slowly over the summer. You should not be expected to rush back to work in your office. Many workplaces offer flexible working, now more than ever, so see if it is something your work can accommodate.
- #4 If you feel unwell, take a PCR test as soon as you can. If positive your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. This will help to reduce the risk of passing on the virus to others.
- #5 We should all be trying to get our first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible and ensure we receive the 2nd dose after at least 4 weeks. It is important to remember that you can still catch, or pass on the virus even if you have been fully vaccinated.
- #6 Although rules on wearing face masks have been removed, you may still feel comfortable wearing one in certain situations. It is recommended that you still wear a face mask on public transport as this is an opportunity for close contact in a confined space. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth continues to stop spreading the disease and will help to keep communities and businesses thriving. Even though the rules have been removed, you must do what is right for you.
- #7 Continue to be vigilant with hand washing and sanitizing. If you have been in a public space and have been unable to wash or sanitize your hands yet, then try to avoid touching your nose or mouth. This is the same recommendation since the pandemic began, but this whole situation has made us think more about hand hygiene in public places.
- #8 Most importantly, you need to go at the right pace for you. Don’t let others bully or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to. It can be hard to let others move forward without you. It’s important to discuss your feelings and worries with those close to you, but also to allow other people space to move at their own pace.
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