Home Breaking News 85% of Tube, train and bus users kept masks on during ‘Freedom...

85% of Tube, train and bus users kept masks on during ‘Freedom Day’ today

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Asda and Sainsbury’s shoppers today claimed to have received ‘abuse’ for continuing to use face masks as others refused to wear them – but 85% of Tube, train and bus passengers kept theirs on. 

Face coverings are no longer required by law, although official national guidance is to continue wearing them in crowded public places. 

There was a mixed picture across the country today, with pictures from the Tube showing carriages of commuters defying London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s order to carry on wearing masks on public transport in the capital. 

However, Transport for London put the overall compliance rate at 85%. 

Meanwhile, Twitter users claimed to have received abuse in supermarkets for wearing face coverings, with one writing: ‘This morning already had two #nomaskers in @sainsburys petrol station in my face, I’m immunosuppressed and in the car was my daughter who has Down syndrome and has had heart surgery.’

A second added: ‘Already had abuse in Asda this morning for wearing a mask for f***’s sake what’s so difficult about respecting people’s boundaries.’ 

It came as anti-maskers took to Twitter to declare a boycott of shops still enforcing the requirement, which includes all major supermarkets and hardware store B&Q. 

However, the public is broadly behind the wearing of masks, with 64% of adults in Great Britain saying they still plan to cover their faces in shops, and the same percentage saying they would do so on public transport. 

Face coverings are still compulsory on the Tube due to a decision by Mr Khan, who said he did not want to put transport users ‘at risk’. Passengers can be thrown off services if they refuse to cooperate, although fines will no longer be issued, Transport for London confirmed to MailOnline. 

Airlines still mandate mask wearing, while pubs, visitor attractions and local travel companies have all come up with their own rules. Meanwhile, fitness chain PureGym asks they still be worn in communal areas. 

Pictures from the Tube showing carriages of commuters defying London Mayor Sadiq Khan ‘s order to continue wearing masks on public transport in the capital. However, Transport for London put the overall compliance rate at 85%

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Twitter users claimed to have received abuse for wearing masks today – although a poll showed most Britons are in favour of them 

Shoppers in a London Tesco not wearing masks today. All the major supermarkets are asking customers to continue doing so

Shoppers in a London Tesco not wearing masks today. All the major supermarkets are asking customers to continue doing so 

Some customers at a Greggs in Bradford, West Yorkshire, were seen without masks today as the legal requirement to wear them was removed

Some customers at a Greggs in Bradford, West Yorkshire, were seen without masks today as the legal requirement to wear them was removed

All the major supermarket chains are encouraging customers to continue using masks. Pictured was the scene in an Asda in Birmingham today All the major supermarket chains are encouraging customers to continue using masks. Pictured was the scene in an Asda in Birmingham today

All the major supermarket chains are encouraging customers to continue using masks. Pictured was the scene in an Asda in Birmingham today 

Anti-maskers took to Twitter today to declare a boycott of shops still enforcing the requirement, which includes all major supermarkets Anti-maskers took to Twitter today to declare a boycott of shops still enforcing the requirement, which includes all major supermarkets

Anti-maskers took to Twitter today to declare a boycott of shops still enforcing the requirement, which includes all major supermarkets

Where do you still have to wear face coverings from today? 

What are the rules on wearing masks in England now?

People are no longer required by law to wear face coverings in certain settings now the remaining restrictions in England have been lifted.

But the latest guidance, issued last week, says the Government ‘expects and recommends’ masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces such as public transport.

Does this mean that people do not need to carry masks with them anymore?

It is probably best not to be too quick to throw away your mask.

Health leaders, local politicians, shop bosses and transport chiefs have all said that they will continue to require or encourage people to wear face coverings.

This means that face coverings may be required in some premises, on some bus and train services, hospitals and GP surgeries.

What do experts say about masks?

Some experts are urging people to continue to wear masks in busy public spaces.

Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, urged people to continue with preventative measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

He told Sky News: ‘My recommendation is simply wear your mask, don’t get too close to people, watch out in confined spaces and remember this virus hasn’t gone away.’

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises ministers, said it is important that people remain cautious after so-called Freedom Day.

He told Sky News that people should continue to minimise contact with others and wear a mask when mixing with people indoors.

Do people still need masks to go to the shops?

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s on Wednesday said it would encourage all customers to continue wearing face coverings from July 19 if they can.

Tesco, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons and Waitrose also came out to say they will encourage customers and staff to continue wearing masks in their supermarkets from when restrictions ease.

Staff and customers at Waitrose and John Lewis have also been recommended to continue wearing masks but the John Lewis Partnership said it will ultimately be up to individual judgment.

How about public transport?

Face coverings will continue to be compulsory in some locally operated public transport spaces.

People in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire will have to continue wearing face masks in bus stations operated by the combined authorities, while passengers using the Metro in the North East will also be required to wear a face covering.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also said face coverings will be required on Transport for London (TfL) services as a ‘condition of carriage’.

This means enforcement officers would be able to deny access or eject passengers found to be non-compliant while using the TfL network.

Face coverings will also remain compulsory on Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services and the Heathrow Express.

What about other transport providers?

Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar, airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, plus Heathrow Airport will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings.

Heathrow Express, which operates services to London Paddington, said face coverings will remain mandatory.

But all other train companies such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, plus major bus and coach companies including National Express and Megabus, will not demand mask-wearing.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents major bus and coach operators such as National Express and Megabus, has also said that its members will not mandate the wearing of face coverings.

Minicab hailing app Uber has also said drivers and passengers will continue to be required to wear a mask even though they will no longer be required by law.

– Does this mean different parts of the country have different rules on public transport?

Elected regional mayors across England have warned that without a continued national mandate there would be a ‘ridiculous mismatch’ of rules across the country that will be ‘confusing’ for passengers.

The Labour metro mayors for West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, West of England and South Yorkshire have urged the Government to continue to make face coverings compulsory on all public transport beyond the lifting of restrictions.

What about going to a hospital or GP appointment?

Staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

PHE said infection prevention measures and visiting guidance will continue across all health services including hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies, to ensure patients and staff are protected.

Staff, patients and visitors will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting, as well as using face coverings and other personal protection equipment.

And offices?

It is up to individual employers to decide.  

What are the rules in Scotland and Wales?

In Wales, face coverings will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport when coronavirus restrictions are lifted next month, while in Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said face covering measures are likely to remain for ‘some time to come’.

Wales eased some restrictions on Saturday, with almost all coronavirus measures due to be lifted from August 7, but it will remain the law to wear a face mask on public transport and in most indoor settings except pubs and restaurants and schools.

The Welsh Government will lift the requirement for people to wear masks as soon as the public health situation allows, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. 

 

Shoppers flooded into Newcastle on Freedom Day today, with most deciding to still wear masks despite it no longer being the law.  

Ian Crowe, 26, a marketing manager from Sunderland, thinks the country is in a lot of trouble. He said: ‘Its a load of rubbish. No one’s got a plan for Covid.

‘Boris doesn’t even understand self isolating. I voted for him and he’s not done anything he said he would. I don’t think he’s capable.

‘I don’t agree with lifting the rules. I’ve had my vaccines but we’re in a lot of trouble.

‘A lot of people in the shops are wearing a mask, which is good. I think I’ve got to wear a mask, not for myself but for others.’ 

Cheryl Kirckhove, a 57-year-old carer from Newcastle, said: ‘I’m wearing my mask. We’re not out of the woods yet.

‘In my job as a carer, it’s hard for me. I still feel scared. We’ll go back into lockdown, it won’t be the last time. Especially seeing the tennis, they’re packed in like sardines and the football, they don’t care.’

Ashley Shocklidge, a 22-year-old recruiter from Milton Keynes said: ‘I’m still using masks.

‘I was isolating last week because of a lot of people coming into work with Covid. I think we’ve just got to get on with it.

‘I am going to be more careful when I see my grandparents because I don’t want them to get it but it’s nice to be able to go out or have the option.’

Jean Rogers, a retired hospital worker from Sunderland, 72, said: ‘I’m still wearing mine, it’s too early for me to take it off because of the rising Covid rates.’

But Patrick Milo, 23, said: ‘It’s much better now. I’ve had a mask on but I took it off.

‘It’s finally back to normal life but I still a bit sceptical because you see so many people walking around wearing masks.

‘I’ll still be going out to clubs. It depends on when I’m off work but I like to go out. I am excited that freedom day is here but it’s because of the vaccination programme.’

Rebecca McDonnell, a 24-year-old nurse from Newcastle said: ‘I’ve had my vaccinations and I’ve also had Covid so I feel okay about it.

‘I’ll be wearing my mask on public transport because you’re sat still but in shops I’ll just be social distancing rather than masks because you’re moving around and away from people. I wear a mask at work and it drives me crazy.’

At Westfield in West London, shops were busy from early morning with virtually all of them not enforcing mandatory mask rules. 

Under the Government’s guidance, individual business can make wearing them compulsory.

A sales assistant at Marks and Spencer said: ‘We’re not making anyone where them. It’s the customers choice. It seems like a strange choice to me given that coronavirus cases are rising but we don’t make the rules.’

A security guard at Zara’s said: ‘Our policy is that it’s the customers choice. It’s going to make our lives a lot easier as we won’t have to enforce this rule any more.

‘I’ve also stopped wearing a mask so I can’t really tell customers to put one on when I haven’t even got mine.’

Other stores also revealed that wearing a mask would be the individual’s choice.

However, most shoppers inside Westfield were choosing to keep covering the faces. 

John Enfield, who was with his girlfriend, Sarah, said: ‘The whole thing is a mess. We cam into London on the train, so didn’t need a mask. Then we got on the underground, where you have to wear one.

‘And here in Westfield, none of the shops are bothered. It’s all very confusing. I’m wearing my mask for the time being because I don’t know what the rules are for each of the shops.’

Shopper Janet Brown added: ‘People are wearing masks today but that’s going to decrease as time passes.

‘This is all about getting people back in the shops a d getting the economy going. The Government don’t really care if we wear masks or get COVID.’

There were some signs of tension this morning, with the author Ann Cleeves saying she was shouted at by an anti-masker in her home town of Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear. 

She tweeted: ‘In Whitley, putting on my mask and a car drives past, window open. Guy shouts: ”Freedom day. Get off those masks”. This is NE England, more cases than anywhere. And my daughter’s doing chemo. No freedom for her!’  

This weekend, Uber became the latest transport company to confirm it would continue to require drivers and passengers to wear face coverings. 

They will also remain compulsory on trams in Greater Manchester and Tyne and Wear, and in bus stations operated by the combined authorities in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

Cross-Channel train firm Eurostar, airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, plus Heathrow Airport will continue to require passengers to wear face coverings.

Heathrow Express, which operates services to London Paddington, said face coverings will remain mandatory.

But all other train companies such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, plus major bus and coach companies including National Express and Megabus, will not demand mask-wearing. 

Mr Johnson has told Britons to ‘take personal responsibility’ and continue using face coverings them in ‘crowded’ spaces, as a spike in Covid cases led him to add a note of caution to his previously triumphant rhetoric. 

A recent YouGov survey suggested 71% of people believe face coverings should continue to be mandatory on public transport after Monday. 

Mr Khan today urged the public to continue to wear face masks in crowded places.

He said: ‘I think we should recognise this virus is still here.On an average day there are 4,000 new cases.

‘Whenever you are indoors and cannot keep your social distancing, err on the side of caution and put your face mask on.

‘I think when you leave your home now, just like you think about having your keys, your wallet, your purse, carry a face mask as well.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A mixed picture on mask wearing emerged from social media users today. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is mandating their use on the Tube while fitness chain PureGym asks that face coverings be worn in communal areas 

45609697 0 image a 26 1626675033390 Large numbers of Tube passengers were pictured with faces uncovered this morning, despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan's decision to continue enforcing their use across the capital's transport network

Large numbers of Tube passengers were pictured with faces uncovered this morning, despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to continue enforcing their use across the capital’s transport network

Commuters with and without facemasks arrive at Waterloo station in London. Heathrow Express, which operates services to London Paddington, said face coverings will remain mandatory. But all other train companies will not demand their wearing

Commuters with and without facemasks arrive at Waterloo station in London. Heathrow Express, which operates services to London Paddington, said face coverings will remain mandatory. But all other train companies will not demand their wearing

A nurse travelling to work on the London Underground, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Cases are rising and it is worrying that some people are choosing not to wear masks.

‘It is not too much to ask for people to wear a mask to protect those who are vulnerable.

‘I have seen first-hand what happens if people don’t act sensibly.’

John Raim, 32, said: ‘Wearing a mask is second nature to me now. It feels more normal for me to wear one than not. I think the decision to make mask wearing compulsory in London is a good one.’

A group of female friends, who were not wearing masks, said: ‘We did our makeup to hang out and did not want to ruin it. Sweat and makeup is not a good combination, and it can be dangerous to sit in a hot mask on a long journey like we had.’

One commuter, Don Lita, explained that he was not wearing a mask because he has ‘ear allergies’, adding: ‘I think it is not fair to force people to wear masks.’

Two-thirds of British adults plan to continue wearing masks in shops  

Two-thirds of adults in Great Britain said they still plan to cover their faces in shops, following the lifting of most coronavirus legal restrictions in England from July 19, according to new data. The same percentage – 64% – plan to wear masks on public transport, while 60% plan to avoid crowded places, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Statistics from the ONS’s weekly Opinions and Lifestyle Survey also found nine out of 10 adults believe continuing to wear face coverings is important for slowing the spread of Covid-19, whilst 88% said social distancing from those not in their household remained key.

More than half who were surveyed between July 7 and 11 said they were worried about plans to remove legal restrictions, which come into force today. One fifth said they were ‘very worried’. There was also a slight uptick in the number of people who believe normal life is a year or more away – at 28%. This compared with 25% who said the same in the survey a week earlier, although it was down from a peak of 41% last September.

Breaking down the data by age groups, respondents between 16 and 29 years old were the least likely to continue with face coverings – although more than half said they still would. The percentage of people likely to wear masks in shops increases with age, with 74% of those aged 70 and over planning to do so.

On public transport, 69% of those aged 70 and over said they plan to wear face coverings, compared with 70% aged 50 to 69. Almost half of adults plan to maintain social distancing around others they do not live with. Younger generations are less likely to socially distance, with just 31% planning to, whilst those aged 50 to 69 are most likely, with 59%. Nearly one in three working adults plan to work from home, despite recommendations for home working ending, the survey also found. 

Other commuters slammed the new rules as ‘mixed and confusing’ – claiming that many passengers would not be sure about when and where to wear them.

Simon Barker, 38 who was entering South Ealing underground station on his way to work said: ‘I think the whole country is confused and it doesn’t make sense. If you are on the tube you have to wear a mask but if you are on a train in London, you don’t.

‘And what happens when you are going through a station which shares underground and rail services? There are a lot of those in London?’

Denise Sweeney, 44, who had just emerged from the station said: ‘The majority of people on the tube were wearing masks so that’s a good thing.

‘But in general, the rules are not clear. Some business are demanding them, others are not. I can just envisage this whole thing leading to a lot of problems because there is no clarity.’

Most commuters entering and leaving the station were wearing masks, although some feared that might change over the coming weeks.

Rowan Fernandes, 28 said: ‘I travel on the tube every day but those who don’t might not be sure what the rules are. Most people are wearing them today, but I’m not convinced that it’s going to stay that way because there is no consistency in the rules. And that always leads to a lot of problems.’

Brian Palmer, 52 added: ‘From what I’ve seen, many people have stopped wearing masks in general. I really noticed that over the weekend when I went to the shops. That’s even been happening on the underground and the buses for a while now and the staff are not really enforcing the rules.

‘The Government should have been firm about this and laid down the rules, but they’ve just left it up to individual businesses and the public are confused. That’s just going to get worse as time goes on.’

Gurmeet Singh fumed: ‘The whole thing is a joke, and nobody is sure what’s going on. I think the rules for going on the tube and buses in London are quite clear but that’s not the case everywhere else.

‘People are going to have to continually put their masks on or off, depending on where they are and there’s going to be a lot of arguing about what they’re supposed to do.’    

Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, echoed the passengers’ concerns. 

He said: ‘We know people are divided between not wanting to wear face coverings, and not wanting to travel if they aren’t worn. The lack of consistency on rules is going to cause some uncertainty and confusion. It could also make enforcement trickier. Clear information before and during journeys will be key.’   

Today the NHS launched a new scheme to encourage people to continue wearing face coverings despite it no longer being law. 

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the new campaign was not about being ‘pious’. He told Times Radio today that the Not Too Much To Mask initiative was about people taking ‘sensible measures’ to reduce transmission such as wearing face coverings, meeting outdoors, keeping indoor areas well ventilated and getting vaccinated.

He added: ‘This campaign is not about calling people out or being pious, it’s just about saying to people ‘you are not alone, there are other people who are doing this’.

‘One of the most powerful things about a mask is it is a signal to fellow citizens you are showing concern for them.’ 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan poses next to a sign saying that face coverings remain mandatory on the Tube despite today's change in the law

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan poses next to a sign saying that face coverings remain mandatory on the Tube despite today’s change in the law 

A customer at Greggs in Bradford, West Yorkshire, who was pictured without a mask today as the legal requirement to wear them was removed

A customer at Greggs in Bradford, West Yorkshire, who was pictured without a mask today as the legal requirement to wear them was removed 

Mr Khan said he was 'not prepared' to put transport users in the capital 'at risk' by changing the rules. Pictured are commuters in London this morning

Mr Khan said he was ‘not prepared’ to put transport users in the capital ‘at risk’ by changing the rules. Pictured are commuters in London this morning 

Commuters, some nor wearing facemasks, on a Jubilee Line tube train to Westminster during this morning's rush hour

Commuters, some nor wearing facemasks, on a Jubilee Line tube train to Westminster during this morning’s rush hour 

At London Bridge station this morning, pictures showed a split between commuters still wearing masks and those who were not

At London Bridge station this morning, pictures showed a split between commuters still wearing masks and those who were not 

Today the NHS launched a new scheme to encourage people to continue wearing face coverings despite it no longer being law. Many Tube commuters were seen without masks today

Today the NHS launched a new scheme to encourage people to continue wearing face coverings despite it no longer being law. Many Tube commuters were seen without masks today

Polls have found that 60% of Britons are ‘nervous’ about final lockdown restrictions being lifted as cases soared 52% in a week to 48,161 and 25 more people died. 

It came as Freedom Day was branded ‘disaster day’ by stricken businesses today as self-isolating Boris Johnson faces fresh demands to dump farcical test and trace rules to quell the ‘pingdemic’.

The PM is marking the grand unlocking alone at Chequers after performing a comical U-turn from initially saying he and Rishi Sunak would dodge quarantine despite having met Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who has tested positive.

But the lifting of almost all legal restrictions have merely fuelled fears about spiking cases bringing the economy grinding to a halt, as more and more people are doomed to house arrest.

Experts estimate around 1.7million people are still self-isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app or contacted by Test and Trace.

Many firms say their sites are having to open with reduced hours or shut completely because up to a quarter of staff are off as a precautionary measure – with scientists warning the situation could spiral as the UK faces up to 200,000 cases a day.

The Road Haulage Association has warned of impending chaos in supply chains, with chief executive Rod Mackenzie telling the FT: ‘Far from freedom day being freedom day, it’s going to be disaster day.’

In a key concession today, frontline NHS workers will be exempted from the rules to prevent hospitals having to cancel operations because of staff shortages.

But this morning vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi appeared to dash hopes that the exemption could be ditched for the double-jabbed before August 16, as well as suggesting that the sensitivity of the app will remain the same for the time being.

Boris Johnson is urging Britons to take 'personal responsibility' and continue wearing face coverings in crowded environments like the Tube (seen today)

Boris Johnson is urging Britons to take ‘personal responsibility’ and continue wearing face coverings in crowded environments like the Tube (seen today) 

Passengers leave a carriage on the Jubilee Line this morning after Freedom Day saw the law requiring masks to be worn on public transport ditched

Passengers leave a carriage on the Jubilee Line this morning after Freedom Day saw the law requiring masks to be worn on public transport ditched 

Maskless passengers leave London Bridge railway station this morning amid an easing of pandemic restrictions in Britain

Maskless passengers leave London Bridge railway station this morning amid an easing of pandemic restrictions in Britain 

Iceland supermarket boss Richard Walker accused the Government of ‘squandering the advantages’ of its successful vaccination programme by forcing double-jabbed people to self-isolate, adding: ‘We’re behaving like it’s the dark days of March 2020’.

Humphrey Cobbold, the CEO of PureGym, which has more than 1.1million members in 287 sites, said: ‘We’ve been talking internally about living in the United Pingdom and it’s become a huge challenge for individuals and businesses’, adding his staff are ‘being pinged all the time’.

So much for the return to offices! Tube passengers are 38% of pre-pandemic levels while bus journeys stay around 68% as WFH rule ends 

Usage of London’s transport and roads network failed to rise on Freedom Day today despite the UK’s rail network as a whole having its busiest Monday since the pandemic began as Covid restrictions lifted in England.

Transport for London said Tube travel was at 38 per cent of normal demand today and unchanged from last week, with 790,000 entries and exits compared to a pre-pandemic baseline of 2.1million. Bus travel was at 68 per cent of normal, and down 4 per cent in a week, with 900,000 boarding taps compared to a 1.31million baseline.

The fall is bus usage is partially a result of schools getting towards the end of term, and the summer is generally quieter across the network. Transport bossed in the capital added that staff observed face mask compliance at around 85 per cent this morning, which is roughly at the same kind of level as has been seen in recent weeks.

Congestion on the capital’s roads was at 41 per cent during rush-hour this morning – which was roughly in line with the 8am figure last Friday (40 per cent), according to data from location technology firm TomTom.

But it was down on last Thursday (49 per cent), Wednesday (52 per cent) and Tuesday (48 per cent) – while it was also well below the peak congestion level on Saturday of 51 per cent at 1pm. The congestion levels suggest many Britons are still working from home despite the Government lifting its official working from home guidance.

Meanwhile the Trainline website reported more bookings for travel this Monday than any other Monday in the last 16 months, with the number of tickets sold for this week up 26 per cent on two months ago.

The most popular station to travel to this week is London Euston, followed by Kings Cross, Edinburgh, Manchester Piccadilly, London Paddington, York, Liverpool Lime Street, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham New Street. 

He added: ‘Up to 25 per cent of our staff in some areas have been asked to self-isolate. Through flexibility we’ve been able to keep sites open so far but it’s been a really close call. I think there is a different way to react to the pings for the double vaccinated and using lateral flow tests that would keep the economy functioning’.

Greene King pub boss Nick MacKenzie said: ‘It’s a problem and it could get worse. It is disruptive to the business. We had to close 33 pubs in the past week because of a lack of staff and across the industry we think it is one in 5 who have been affected by this and therefore it is causing us a real issue on a daily basis. We are having to have shorten hours in certain circumstances.’

He added: ‘We need clarity from government on how the app works and we need to move to a test and release scheme where people can take a lateral flow test every day and get back to work and some sort of normality’.

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak had announced yesterday they would take part in a pilot scheme to avoid quarantine.

But amid widespread outrage from politicians, business leaders and the public they humiliatingly caved in within hours and revealed they would join the legions of people self-isolating – in the PM’s case Chequers until July 26, his country estate in Buckinghamshire.

They had faced accusations they were accessing a ‘VIP lane’ that was not available to workers who are having to isolate, bringing some businesses and public transport to the brink of collapse. 

It came as revellers packed into nightclubs for the first time since March 2020, without being required to provide Covid passports or negative test results. 

And with social distancing rules shelved, there are no limits on people attending.

Venues including Fabric, E1, Ministry of Sound and Egg nightclubs in London, Pryzm in Bristol, Powerhouse Night Club in Newcastle and Moon Acre in Dorset re-opened on the stroke of midnight – the very second that most legal restrictions on social contact were removed.

It’s ‘the moment we’ve been waiting for, that our customers have been waiting for,’ said Tristan Moffat, operations director of London music venue The Piano Works, ahead of the deadline.

The business had been keen to open its doors again after losing about £40,000 a month during the pandemic, he said.

Its Freedom Day bash started on Sunday with a countdown to midnight when staff members cut a ribbon to the dance floor and served customers free prosecco.

But while entertainment businesses and ravers are now jubilant, many others are deeply worried about the British government’s decision to go ahead with fully reopening the economy and no longer mandating masks at a time when Covid-19 cases are on a rapid upswing. 

People queue outside Bar Fibre in Leeds after the lifting of Covid restrictions in England at midnight

People queue outside Bar Fibre in Leeds after the lifting of Covid restrictions in England at midnight

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Revellers get back on the dancefloor at Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle at the stroke of midnight, wasting no time to enjoy their first taste of clubbing since last March

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In a study carried out by YouGov, which questioned 3,659 adults between July 5 and July 15, 73 per cent of English people who used to go to nightclubs in pre-pandemic times said that they would not currently feel comfortable returning after the restrictions lifted.

The grand re-opening has come as Covid cases across the UK soared by 52 per cent week-on-week after yesterday recording 48,161 new cases – up from the 31,772 cases recorded last Sunday – with a further 25 deaths..

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the move in a video message on Sunday during which he said: ‘If we don’t do it now, we have to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it. So this is the right moment.

‘But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.

‘But we have this immense consolation and satisfaction that there is no doubt at all that the vaccine programme – the massive vaccination programme – has very severely weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation, and between infection and serious illness and death.

‘So please, please, please be cautious and go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.’

Partygoers queuing for the Viaduct Bar in Leeds after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight

Partygoers queuing for the Viaduct Bar in Leeds after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight

Huge queues of revellers waited to enter Grey's nightclub on Grey Street in Newcastle as it threw open its doors on the stroke of midnight

Huge queues of revellers waited to enter Grey’s nightclub on Grey Street in Newcastle as it threw open its doors on the stroke of midnight

Pictured: People queued up for the Egg nightclub in London after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight

Pictured: People queued up for the Egg nightclub in London after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight

Thousands of eager revellers across England have piled onto dance floors for the first time since March last year. Pictured: Partygoers in Newcastle

Thousands of eager revellers across England have piled onto dance floors for the first time since March last year. Pictured: Partygoers in Newcastle

The grand re-opening has come as Covid cases across the UK soared by 52 per cent week-on-week. Pictured: Revellers get back on the dancefloor at Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle

The grand re-opening has come as Covid cases across the UK soared by 52 per cent week-on-week. Pictured: Revellers get back on the dancefloor at Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle

In Brighton clubbers queued around the corner to get into Pryzm nightclub as it opened at 00.01 this morning - for the first time in 16 months

In Brighton clubbers queued around the corner to get into Pryzm nightclub as it opened at 00.01 this morning – for the first time in 16 months

Social distancing, working from home, masks in shops and on public transport: What IS and what IS NOT changing on Freedom Day

By William Cole for MailOnline

People in England emerge from lockdown today with the government’s final major easing of restrictions.

Here, MailOnline looks at the rules that are changing  and what guidance has been issued to replace it in some areas:

FACE MASKS

Legal rules mandating the wearing of face masks will be axed.

However, despite ministers previously saying they want to ditch coverings as soon as they are voluntary, guidance will state that they are ‘expected and recommended’ in crowded spaces.

Guidance published last night said: ‘Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.’ 

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has broken rank to ordered they be kept compulsory on the Tube, buses and taxis. He was backed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who said he had ‘expected’ operators to put in place ‘conditions of carriage’ to ensure that passengers were safe on public transport.

Regional leaders such as Manchester mayor Andy Burnham have also said the restrictions would stay on transport in his city.

Private companies will be allowed to make them a requirement for entry, as Ryanair has already announced on its flights.

An ONS survey this week found that nearly two thirds of adults will continue to wear masks in shops and on public transport.

Passengers on the London underground and several other train lines Will still have to wear masks unless exempt – after bosses defied the government's change to the law by putting in place their own guidance

Passengers on the London underground and several other train lines Will still have to wear masks unless exempt – after bosses defied the government’s change to the law by putting in place their own guidance

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GOING TO PUBS

It will no longer be a legal requirement to scan a QR code on entry to a venue as part of the test and trace system. However, venues will be allowed to make use of the codes a requirement for entry if they choose.

It will also no longer be a legal requirement for pubs to require customers to order drinks at their tables.

However, some pub chains may continue this – meaning that people will still not be able to go to the bar if an individual pub bans it.

SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES

The one-metre rule will be scrapped in law – meaning fewer Perspex screens in offices.

It also means hospitality businesses like pubs and restaurants won’t have to limit customers to ensure they are spaced apart. 

But people are now being strongly advised to ‘minimise the number, proximity and duration of social contacts’.

Chris Whitty even suggested that people should avoid ‘unnecessary meetings’ – and said everyone should continue to abide by ‘hands, face, space’.

However, the one-metre rule will continue to be enforced at borders, such as in airports, amid concern over people coming into the country with variants. 

Social distancing rules in pubs and restaurants will be scrapped from today. The change will mean many businesses that were too small to open before will finally be able to open their doors (stock photo)

Social distancing rules in pubs and restaurants will be scrapped from today. The change will mean many businesses that were too small to open before will finally be able to open their doors (stock photo)

SELF-ISOLATION RULES

There had been hopes that the requirement for the double-jabbed to self-isolate for up to 10 days when they are ‘pinged’ for coming in contact with a positive case would be dropped from July 19.

However, that date was pushed back to August 16 by Health Secretary Sajid Javid amid concerns about fueling rising infection numbers.

The rules on self-isolation for those who have not had two doses are staying in place for the time being.

However, officials are working on ways of making the NHS app less sensitive to avoid millions of people being doomed to house arrest.

And ministers have said work is ongoing on a system of daily testing that could potentially replace the self-isolation regime.   

The governments 'work from home' message will be scrapped, but replaced with advice that any return to offices should be 'gradual' over the summer while cases are high

The governments ‘work from home’ message will be scrapped, but replaced with advice that any return to offices should be ‘gradual’ over the summer while cases are high

WORKING FROM HOME

The Government’s ‘work from home’ message will end and employers will be able to start to plan a return to workplaces, some having been empty since last March.

But the decision of course is still be up to individual employers.

Some may decide to continue with working from home for the foreseeable future, although city centre businesses such as cafes and retail have been hugely affected by the lack of office workers.

Government advice will also be that any return to offices should be ‘gradual’ over the summer while cases are high. 

The guidance states: ‘Whilst government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.’ 

Although guidance to employers will be slimmed down, it will still encourage them to ensure rooms are properly ventilated to minimise risk.

CAP ON CARE HOME VISITS

The current restriction that people can only be seen by five named visitors will be scrapped.

But strict infection-control measures – such as the wearing of PPE and regular cleaning – will continue, with more detail to be announced later. 

Restrictions on festivals and other large outdoor events will also end, meaning Reading and Leeds and the Isle of Wight festival (pictured, 2017) will be allowed to go ahead later this year

Restrictions on festivals and other large outdoor events will also end, meaning Reading and Leeds and the Isle of Wight festival (pictured, 2017) will be allowed to go ahead later this year

COVID PASSPORTS

Covid status certification – so-called vaccine passports – will not be legally required within England.

It is being left up to individual venues to decide themselves whether to demand Covid status certification through the NHS App as a condition of entry.

The government is ‘encouraging’ the use of Covid certification for large events. 

Owners of busy indoor venues such as nightclubs and busy city-centre bars have been told to consider bringing in the passports.

The government will ‘encourage’ businesses and large events to use the NHS Covid Pass in ‘high risk settings’ – that is, where people are likely to be in ‘close proximity to others outside their household’.

Few details have been given, but the guidance could cover theatres, cinemas, indoor concerts and exhibitions. The government many consider mandating certification in certain venues at a later date. 

TRAVEL 

A new system to allow double-jabbed people to avoid quarantine after returning from amber-list countries will come into force from July 19 – with one big exception. 

A government U-turn announced on Friday night now means that even vaccinated Brits returning from France will have to quarantine – sparking fury as families were forced to cancel trips to France at the last-minute. 

From today, double-jabbed people can avoid quarantine after returning from amber-list countries. However, travellers from France, where there is a large number of Beta variant cases, will not be part of the rule relaxation

From today, double-jabbed people can avoid quarantine after returning from amber-list countries. However, travellers from France, where there is a large number of Beta variant cases, will not be part of the rule relaxation

RULE OF SIX

There will be no legal limits on social contact, meaning groups will not have to limit themselves to six people or two households if they are mixing indoors. 

Groups outdoors can be as large as people want them to be.

WEDDING AND FUNERAL CAP

The limits on attendance at weddings, funerals and other major life events are being scrapped.

Covid cases across the UK have soared by 52 per cent week-on-week, but the number of deaths has fallen slightly

Covid cases across the UK have soared by 52 per cent week-on-week, but the number of deaths has fallen slightly

Last week 26 people were recorded as having died from Covid, while figures released today showed 25 people had died of Covid in the last 24 hours

Last week 26 people were recorded as having died from Covid, while figures released today showed 25 people had died of Covid in the last 24 hours

This week's figures show 740 patients had been admitted with Covid on July 13, and 4,313 in the week to that date

This week’s figures show 740 patients had been admitted with Covid on July 13, and 4,313 in the week to that date

ART AND SPORT VENUE LIMITS

There will be no more restrictions on the size of an audience at a concert or a show, or a crowd at a sports fixture, which means theatres and stadiums can run at full capacity.

NIGHTCLUBS

All other legal requirements for venues to close will be lifted, allowing night-time industries – including nightclubs – to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began.

SINGING CURBS

No restrictions on singing, or even guidance to restrict it. It means singing by church choirs can continue – as can karaoke nights.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9802943/85-Tube-train-bus-users-kept-masks-Freedom-Day-today.html