Freedom Day: What’s actually changed?
Freedom Day is here and with it, restrictions have been (mostly) removed from day to day activities, allowing people to return to something that resembles normal life as we knew it 18 months ago. It’s been a long time coming and this will probably mean that it takes a bit of time to get used to the lack of restrictions that are in place, so we thought we’d put together a short post detailing the rules that have been lifted, the rules that are in place, and how you can continue to keep those around you safe as we move away from a time of lockdowns, masks, distancing, and general unpleasantness.
When was Freedom Day?
After months and months of push-backs, date changes, and assorted tomfoolery regarding the date we’d all be allowed to feel “free” again, the date that was finally decided was 19th July – 16 months after the first lockdown back in March 2020. Despite originally being scheduled for much earlier in the summer, Freedom Day was bushed back due to growing fears over new strains of Covid, such as the Delta Variant, which hit many parts of the country and lead to rapid rises in the number of cases in the UK. Thanks to widespread testing and comprehensive vaccine rollout, research and tracking now show that over 82.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered across the UK, with 36.2 million people now fully vaccinated. This means that around 54% of the entire population is now fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
With the most vulnerable people in the country now fully protected and a growing number of less vulnerable categories now also receiving their vaccinations, the UK appears to be on a course towards a safer and more flexible future away from the fear of the Covid-19 pandemic… finally!
What regulations have been lifted?
So, what has actually changed now that Freedom Day is here? Well, if you haven’t left your house yet this week, you probably haven’t noticed too many changes; people are still working from home, as we expect to see as a permanent fixture moving forwards, and there seems to be a lingering sense of awkwardness surrounding the social etiquette that should be displayed. Of course, Freedom Day has come with many changes to the guidance given to the public, with many of the previous guidelines now lifted to allow people to return their lives back to normal. One of the biggest changes seen is the removal of restrictions on the number of people that you’re allowed to meet at any given time; where we previously had the rule of six and thirty, we are now able to meet in larger groups should we wish to. This may likely lead to many people who have been working from home returning to the office in the near future, as the team here at Embryo has started to do over the past few months!.
Besides the removal of group size restrictions, social distancing guidelines have also been altered – the 1m-plus rule that was previously in place has been removed in most locations, with the exception of hospitals, airports, and other similar establishments. Face coverings will also no longer be required by law, but the government has stated that it still “expects and recommends” that they are worn in busy, crowded spaces that are enclosed and have low air circulation.
Masks may also still be required on certain forms of public transportation and this will be monitored at the discretion of the service provider.
When it comes to events and nightlife, July 19th is a major milestone, with nightclubs able to open for the first time in over a year, whilst pubs and restaurants will no longer have to abide by table service-only regulations, allowing customers to go up to a bar or service table to order drinks and food.
For weddings and funerals, attendance capacity regulations have now been removed too, allowing more people to celebrate marriages and pay respects to past relatives and loved ones in the unfortunate circumstances that they pass. These attendance limits will also apply to other events such as concerts, the theatre, and sports events, meaning the entertainment industry may be able to get back on its feet sooner rather than later!
Finally, we have also seen major changes to travel restrictions and guidelines too, particularly when it comes to isolation periods upon returning to the country. Over 18s and fully vaccinated adults are no longer facing a compulsory self-isolation period when returning from an amber list country, with guidance against travelling to these countries also lifted as of July 19th. The exception to this rule is red list countries, who do still have restrictions in place for returning travellers.
The country is celebrating… safely
With restrictions lifted, it’s only natural to see the country celebrating this week – nightclubs are open, bars are back at full capacity, and the entire nation seems to have an extra spring in their step, with excellent weather to complete the package! Here in Manchester, we’ve seen many bars that have been decimated over the past year able to open their doors for the first time, opening up more jobs and bringing back some of our favourite places to eat and drink, so we couldn’t be happier with the new guidelines. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still be making efforts to keep those around us safe, as there is still a high number of cases in the UK and this is expected to rise in the coming weeks as social distancing guidelines are removed and people return to close contact environments. To keep those around you safe, it’s suggested that you keep your distance as best as you can, wear a mask in crowded and enclosed spaces, and just generally look after those around you as you would have done for the past year and a half.
The virus may still be here, but brighter days are coming and we’re so excited to see things return to “normal”, whatever that means!