Posted: 19.07.21 at 11:59 by Jessica Broadbent
Today Richmond and the rest of England has moved to Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with most legal restrictions removed in what is being dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.
The Government is still urging people to remain cautious despite its lifting of most restrictions including social distancing, working from home, and wearing masks in restaurants and on public transport – although in London this is still compulsory.
You can now sing and dance at a wedding without caution, but what else has changed?
The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted, however it is still recommended to do so in crowded places.
Mask wearing is still compulsory on public transport in London.
Restaurants, pubs, nightclubs
Restaurants and pubs will be able to serve standing customers, not just those at tables - and nightclubs will be able to reopen for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
However, the government is encouraging businesses to use something called the 'NHS Covid Pass' in high-risk settings.
The NHS Covid Pass 'allows you to check your Covid status and demonstrate that you are at lower risk of transmitting to others, through full vaccination, a recent negative test, or proof of natural immunity.'
Richmond restaurant Antipodea said it does not expect a huge change after today. "It’s hard to say what, if any, impact “Freedom Day” will have on our businesses.
"I think in general businesses may see more customers and for us it will mean we can look at having increased seating indoors so our restaurants can trade at full capacity.
"Our model has always been table service so that will continue for guests that “eat in”."
Social distancing and events
You no longer need to social distance or stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. Social distancing is still recommended with those you do not normally live with. Meeting outdoors and keeping indoor spaces aerated is recommended.
Limits on the numbers of people you can meet have also been removed, including for communcal worship, weddings, and other big events, but the government recommends we increase the number of people we socialist with “gradually”. There is no requirement for table service at these “life” events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.
The traffic light system is still in place. Fully-vaccinated people returning to England from amber list countries will not need to quarantine as of today.
Working from home
Previously the Government said it expected people to work from home if they could. Now we can return to the office but gradual return with is recommended and it is likely many will keep working from home.
Richmond Borough Council leader Gareth Roberts is asking residents to continue to take precautions because infections with the Delta variant of coronavirus are rising sharply in the borough.
He said: "The number of cases in Richmond upon Thames are rocketing. There are currently around 400 people in the borough who have COVID-19. And, we are hearing from our local hospital that there are patients with the virus being admitted.
"Whilst the hospital numbers remain low, it would be foolish to not continue to be careful. If not for ourselves, but for those around us.
"Similarly to all other businesses, we are currently reviewing the safety measures in our own services and are considering how we will continue to keep both our staff and residents safe, particularly whilst COVID rampages through the borough."
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Roadmap out of lockdown
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The Government said of today’s measures: “Although most legal restrictions have been lifted at step 4, and many people have been vaccinated, it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated, and we are still in the third wave of this pandemic in the UK.
“COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others.
“As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks.
“While no situation is risk free, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves and others around us.
Following this guidance will help you stay safe and protect others by controlling the spread. Every action to help reduce the spread will reduce any further resurgence of the virus in the coming months.”
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