Health secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed England’s 19 July Covid unlock will go ahead as planned, albeit with fresh guidance on the use of Covid passes in high-risk settings.
In a Commons address on Monday (12 July), Javid said it was the right time to return to something "closer to normal life", adding it was a case of "if not now, then when?".
Prime minister Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street Covid briefing on Monday afternoon in which he will be joined by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance.
The until-now proposed 19 July unlock, delayed a month from 21 June during which time Javid said the NHS was able to deliver an extra seven million Covid vaccinations, will also coincide with a move to lift quarantine rules for fully vaccinated amber list arrivals into the country.
From 19 July, government guidance counselling against travel to amber list countries will be lifted, and under-18s will no longer need to quarantine upon their return.
Javid said while the government’s "four tests" to lift its Covid restrictions had been met, new Covid infections could yet peak at 100,000 a day during the summer.
He further warned that despite the government still being on track to offer all adults a first vaccine by 19 July, the unlock was the start of a "new phase of continued caution" during which time the country must learn to live with Covid and manage the risks the infection poses.
A key focus of Javid’s address was the re-emergence of a government plan to encourage the use of vaccine passes in certain high-risk settings, such as during large events. The use of vaccine passes as part of the domestic unlock had previously been downplayed by the government.
Additionally, Javid said people and businesses should redouble their attention to "caution and personal responsibility" by enacting gradual returns to the workplace, continuing to meet outside where possible, and to wearing face coverings in crowded indoor settings.
The measures, and any remaining restrictions, will be reviewed in September, the health secretary confirmed.