Last reviewed 6 July 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that face masks will no longer be legally required and distancing rules will end at the final stage of England's Covid lockdown roadmap.

The Prime Minister said he expected the final step would go ahead as planned on 19 July, when the rule of six inside private homes will also be removed and work-from-home guidance abolished.

This move will be confirmed on 12 July after a review of the latest data.

Further updates on school bubbles, travel and self-isolation will follow in the coming days. Self-isolation rules for those who test positive with Covid-19 will continue but Boris Johnson suggested there would soon be new rules for fully-vaccinated contacts.

Boris Johnson warned that cases were predicted to rise to 50,000 a day later this month and that "we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid".

The final stage of England's roadmap was delayed last month to no earlier than 19 July due to a surge in cases linked to the Delta Covid-19 variant. But Boris Johnson said the final stage, step four, should proceed on that date, subject to a 12 July review.

He confirmed that the next stage of the pandemic in England will mean:

  • an end to limits on attendance at weddings and funerals

  • table service rules at bars and restaurants and venue check-in requirements will be scrapped

  • limits on named care home visitors will be lifted

  • council powers to enforce rules will expire

  • large-scale events will not legally require certification.

England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty outlined three scenarios where he would continue to wear a face covering in the context of rising case numbers. He said: "The first is any situation which is indoors, crowded, or indoors with close proximity with other people...the second situation I'd do it is if I was required to by any competent authority...and the third reason is if someone else was uncomfortable if I did not wear a mask”.

He warned that the coming winter "may be very difficult for the NHS", as Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the link between cases, hospital admission and death had been "weakened, not broken" by the vaccines.

Boris Johnson said the gap between first and second vaccine jabs for the under-40s will be shortened from 12 to 8 weeks.

The Scottish government said it may continue to require masks in certain settings even after 9 August, when it is hoped the final curbs in Scotland will end.

The Welsh government will have a review on 15 July. Ahead of this date ministers said people would need to learn to live with Covid-19.

Rules in Northern Ireland have just eased, with another review due on 8 July.