Boris Johnson announcement LIVE – July 19 to see Covid face mask rules SCRAPPED, pubs normal and work from home end

BORIS Johnson will make a major covid rules announcement today, outlining the ways in which the UK can get its freedom back.

The Prime Minister is expected to say that from July 19, covid face mask rules will be scrapped, with the UK switching to a voluntary system as we learn to live with covid as a simple fact of life.

However local councils and public transport providers may still insist upon masks being worn with the threat of fines for anybody who doesn't.

Pubs are also likely to be normal with social distancing measures and enforced table service ditched, although individual pubs may well choose to keep their capacity smaller and stick with apps and table service for orders.

And the Government's order to work from home where you can will also be axed – but again, many offices are predicted to opt for flexible working in the future after proving popular and successful during lockdown.

The PM will address the nation at 5pm today – and you can watch live and follow all the action here, live on this page.

The July 19 rule changes which come as covid infection rates soar in the UK but, crucially, hospitalisations remain low thanks to our brilliant vaccines rollout which has broken the link between infections and deaths

Read our live blog below for the latest lockdown updates…

  • John Hall

    CARE MINISTER EXPECTS SOME FACE MASK RESTRICTIONS TO CONTINUE AFTER FREEDOM DAY

    Care minister Helen Whately said she expects the requirement of face masks in health and care settings to continue following the final stage of the road map out of lockdown, due on July 19.

    "I'll be looking at the guidance, I'll be making a judgment, but I'm not keen to wear one when I don't need one – personally, it's not something I enjoy doing," she told Times Radio Breakfast.

    "But I'm also really aware that there will be circumstances, I'm expecting to continue in health and social care clearly, where people will need to continue to wear PPE, which includes masks."

  • John Hall

    WHEN DOES THE FURLOUGH SCHEME END AND WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?

    The furlough scheme is set to end in September and this date hasn’t been extended despite delays to restrictions easing.

    The coronavirus job support scheme will continue to run for another two months, as it supports people’s wages during the pandemic.

    Originally the scheme was only supposed to run until March this year but plans to extend it until September were outlined in the Budget a few months ago.

    The furlough scheme pays workers 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month, supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

    However, support has already started to wind down, even though “freedom day” has been postponed to July 19.

    Companies are now expected to start chipping in for the cost of paying furloughed workers.

    The delay to freedom day is due to covid rates increasing across the country and more cases of the delta variant being reported.

  • John Hall

    WHAT WILL THE PM ANNOUNCE THIS EVENING?

    Boris Johnson is set to give the public and businesses a better idea of what to expect from Freedom Day – July 19.

    The exact time for the press conference has not been announced it but it is expected in the afternoon.

    His speech today is to give the public and businesses a better idea of what to expect ahead of the formal announcement next week.

    Johnson is expected to announce the end date of the one-metre social distancing rule, working from home and the legal requirement to wear face masks.

  • [email protected]

    POLITICIANS ARRIVE TO ATTEND CEREMONY TO CELEBRATE NHS HEROES

    Guests including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey have arrived at St Paul's Cathedral in central London for a ceremony honouring the 73rd birthday of the NHS.

    Ahead of the service, the party leaders spoke for a few minutes before taking their seats at the front of the cathedral as organ music played.

    Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam, NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens are also seated at the front, ahead of rows of socially distanced frontline NHS staff, volunteers and carers.

    The service will celebrate their contribution to the country during the pandemic.

    The Duke of Cambridge will also be attending but the Duchess of Cambridge has had to withdraw from the engagement after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

  • John Hall

    DRUNK G7 SUMMIT COPS BRAWLED ON BOAT AND THREW UP WHILE OFF-DUTY IN CORNWALL

    One had to be rescued from the sea after jumping overboard from the cruise ship they were staying on.

    Two more scaled the ferry’s funnel and a fight broke out among other boozed-up officers sent to guard world leaders at the gathering in Cornwall last month.

    Drunk cops are said to have vomited in the ship’s stairwells during the mayhem.

    Two female officers also got into trouble for taking an official police vehicle to a beach where they “disrobed and sunbathed”.

    A Greater Manchester Police officer jumped from the MS Silja Europa, moored off ­Falmouth, and had to be ­rescued by coastguards.

    A source said: “He was very drunk and jumped in the sea for a dare. The officer very nearly drowned and was sent back home in disgrace.”

  • John Hall

    VACCINES CUTTING LINK BETWEEN COVID INFECTIONS AND DEATH, EXPERT SAYS

    A leading health official says vaccines have cut the link between Covid infections and deaths.

    Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries’s comments came as England’s R rate fell yesterday for the first time in eight weeks.

    The head of the Health Security Agency said: “Although cases are rising, we are not seeing a proportional rise in the number of people who are being admitted to hospital.

    “The data suggests this is testament to the success of the vaccination programme and clearly demonstrates the importance of getting both doses of the vaccine.”

    Since May, Covid cases have shot up five-fold but the number of patients in hospital has not even doubled — there were just over 1,000 at the end of June.

    New admissions and intensive care cases are rising — but much slower than infections.

  • John Hall

    BORIS CONSIDERING 5-STEP PLAN TO EASE SCHOOL COVID RESTRICTIONS FROM SCRAPPED 'BUBBLES' TO END OF TESTING

    Boris Johnson is considering scrapping "bubbles" from schools and putting an end to pupil's self-isolating after a positive Covid contact, it has been claimed.

    The PM is said to be working on the five-point rescue plan to help ease the impact of the pandemic on children after growing pressure from MPs.

    The Daily Telegraph reports the details of the leaked eight-page plan which was written by officials in the Cabinet Office's Covid-19 task force.

    One of the proposed changes would be to scrap "bubbles" from schools from July 19 – the earliest date England could reopen.

    Current rules require children to self-isolate if any of their classmates test positive – leaving parents scrambling to sort childcare at short notice.

    Read the full story here

  • John Hall

    JUST OVER 1% OF LONG COVID CASES RECORDED BY GPs

    Only a small minority of cases of long Covid are being recorded by GPs, a study has suggested.

    Previous research estimated that as many as two million people in England are suffering ongoing symptoms after a Covid-19 infection.

    A new study has found that only 23,273 cases were formally recorded between February 2020 and April 2021 at GP practices.

    Experts analysed data from GP records of 57.9 million patients in England – about 96% of GP patients across the nation.

    More than a quarter of practices (26.7%) had never logged a case, according to the article in the British Journal of General Practice.

  • John Hall

    LABOUR DEMANDS PROBE AFTER EMAILS SUGGEST VIP ‘FAST TRACK’ FOR COVID TESTING

    Labour is calling for an investigation into claims of a “VIP lane” for coronavirus testing contracts after documents emerged suggesting bids from companies with political connections were fast tracked.

    A senior civil servant advised ministers in an email in April last year to write “FASTTRACK” on any offers they received for testing kits, according to documents revealed by the Good Law Project.

    The emails were disclosed by the campaign group as part of its legal challenge against the Government over personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts.

    The Good Law Project says millions of pounds of equipment was purchased in April and May 2020 without proper technical checks, at inflated prices, as a result of contracts provided through a “VIP lane”.

    The email to ministers, seen by the PA news agency, shows ministers were told to forward requests from those who wanted to supply tests to a dedicated email address, where they would be “triaged”

  • John Hall

    YOB LOSES JOB

    An estate agent has been sacked after his boss saw a video of him grabbing Prof Chris Whitty around the neck.

    Lewis Hughes and pal Jonathan Chew, both 24, were branded “despicable thugs” by the Prime Minister for manhandling England’s chief medical officer.

    But tonight, boxing enthusiast Hughes apologised through The Sun and said: “I’ve paid the price with my job.”

    He told how the friends had been on an anti-vax march in London on Sunday when they spotted Prof Whitty, 55, at about 3pm in St James’s Park.

    Hughes, who worked for Caplen Estates Agents, admitted having a couple of drinks first.

    He said: “I absolutely apologise for any upset I caused.

    “If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.”

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    TAX BREAK

    You could claim up to £500 extra cash due to working at home.

    Even if you’re now returning to the office, you can claim tax back on household expenses for time you’ve worked from home, dating back four years.

    Since the beginning of the new tax year this April, nearly 800,000 employees have already claimed the tax relief.

    You can claim up to £125 per year and with the option to backdate claims by up to four years, this means you could claim up to £500 in total.

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has recently revealed that thousands of Brits have claimed the money to cover household related costs.

  • John Hall

    CASE RATE RISING IN ALL AGES GROUPS, PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND WARNS

    Case rates in England among all age groups are continuing to rise, Public Health England said.

    The highest rate is among 20 to 29-year-olds, with 424.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 27, up week-on-week from 274.0.

    This is also the age group to see the biggest week-on-week increase.

    The second highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 220.7 to 369.4.

    For people aged 60 and over, the rate is 27.2, up slightly from 17.6.

  • John Hall

    INDEPENDENT SAGE MEMBERS SAYS HE DOES NOT THINK THERE WILL BE ANNUAL COVID VACCINATIONS

    Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of Independent Sage, said he does not believe that annual coronavirus vaccinations will be given to people in the future.

    He told Times Radio: “I suspect what we will find is that, over the next few years, we’ll have a couple of different variants of the vaccine and then that will probably be adequate. Then obviously younger people will have to be vaccinated as they come through the population.”

    Prof McKee added that he feels it is important to vaccinate children from a “population perspective” due to the need for 87% of people to be vaccinated so that there is “population immunity” against the virus.

    “Twenty percent of the population are under 18 and there’s a higher proportion in some communities so, therefore, it seems obvious from a population perspective,” he said.

    “I think people in the JCVI, who are looking at this from the perspective of the individual child and looking at the risk/benefit balance, are less enthusiastic about vaccinating children, but I’m a public health physician. From a population perspective, it’s very clear that we have to vaccinate children.”

  • John Hall

    CAN YOU GET THE VIRUS IF YOU’VE HAD THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

    No vaccine is 100 per cent effective and the Covid jabs are no different.

    It takes up to two weeks for the vaccines to kick in, so during that period of time you are still vulnerable to infection.

    If you test positive for Covid after your vaccine it’s likely that you had contracted it before you were given your jab.

    You cannot catch the virus from the vaccine, so it’s likely you were already carrying the bug on inoculation

  • John Hall

    CASE RATE RISING IN ALL AGES GROUPS, PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND WARNS

    Case rates in England among all age groups are continuing to rise, Public Health England said.

    The highest rate is among 20 to 29-year-olds, with 424.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 27, up week-on-week from 274.0.

    This is also the age group to see the biggest week-on-week increase.

    The second highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 220.7 to 369.4.

    For people aged 60 and over, the rate is 27.2, up slightly from 17.6

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