It has been announced that England will move into Step 4 of the Roadmap from Monday 19th July. This is a balance of risk, and the public should of course remain cautious as the pandemic is still with us. As part of Step 4, the majority of Covid restrictions will end on 19th July, to be replaced by guidance that will emphasise personal responsibility.
This change comes as a result of the ‘Four tests’ being met. These four tests are: vaccine deployment continues successfully; evidence shows that vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated; infection rates don’t risk a surge in hospitalisations that will put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and finally that the assessment of risks not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
As we move into Step 4, cases will rise but the vaccine programme has weakened the link between infections and serious illness or deaths.
This announcement follows a delay of four weeks before moving into Step 4, which has allowed time for more adults to be vaccinated. During this delay, nearly 7 million vaccines have been administered, meaning many more have the protection that the vaccines provide. Adults should, of course, continue to get their two vaccine doses, with Public Health England and University of Cambridge data suggesting that the vaccine programme has so far prevented an estimated 8.5 million infections and 30,000 deaths in England alone.
The Prime Minister has emphasised caution as we come out of the legal restrictions, the Government expects and recommends that face coverings are worn in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as public transport.
Positive cases and contacts of positives cases identified by NHS Test and Trace will still be legally required to self-isolate to help break chains of transmission. It has been announced that there will be isolation exemptions for contacts of positive cases for under 18s and those who are double vaccinated from 16th August. Instead of isolation, you should take a PCR test and then self-isolate if this is positive. School bubbles will also end on 19th July, providing more normality for our school children when they return in September.
Quarantine rules will remain for all those travelling from a red list country, and for amber list countries unless you are double vaccinated.
The Government has been clear that the data will continue to be reviewed, and contingency measures will be retained to manage periods of higher risk, such as the winter months. As a result, guidance may be strengthened if needed, but restrictions will be avoided if possible due to their costs on the economy, as well as their social and health costs.
You can see further guidance on the below links:
How to stay safe and help prevent the spread from 19 July - Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread from 19 July - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk
Guidance for those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable from 19 July - 19 July guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Guidance for moving to step 4 of the roadmap - Moving to step 4 of the roadmap - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Rules for those entering England - Red, amber and green list rules for entering England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
What you can and cannot do until 19 July - (COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)