In England, all Corona measures are to be ended on July 19. Distance rules, mandatory masks and the home office requirement will then be dropped, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday. Pubs will no longer have to serve exclusively at the table, and there will no longer be space restrictions at major events in stadiums and arenas.Johnson stressed that the binding decision would be made after a further review of pandemic data next Monday (July 12). In the UK, the number of new Corona infections had recently increased significantly due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
"This pandemic is by no means over," Johnson said. The number of new infections is rising rapidly, he said, and he expects 50,000 cases a day soon. But vaccines have significantly weakened the link between new infections and deaths and hospitalizations, he said. "We have to be honest: If we can't reopen society in the coming weeks (...), when else will we be able to return to normal life?" said Johnson. He pointed to good conditions with warm summer weather and the school vacations.
There had already been criticism of the decision in advance. Scientists, trade unions and the opposition called for the mask requirement in particular to be maintained as the simplest means of warding off the virus. London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, also joined in these demands with a view to the impact on local transport.
In a survey conducted by the opinion research institute Yougov, a good two-thirds of respondents were in favor of retaining the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport and in stores. The low-cost airlines Ryanair (Ireland) and Easyjet (UK) have already announced that masks will continue to have to be worn on board their aircraft, irrespective of the rules at the point of departure or destination.
Health policy is a matter for regional governments in the United Kingdom. Johnson is responsible for the largest part of the country, England, which has no government of its own. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, decide for themselves on their Corona measures and when to end them. The Welsh head of government, Mark Drakeford, has already made it clear that he will not adopt the relaxations.