UK lockdown news live: Covid restrictions lifted as minister insists Boris Johnson

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Nightclubs open their doors for first time since start of Covid

Boris Johnson has urged to people to exercise their new freedoms with caution as most mandatory coronavirus restrictions in England are finally lifted.

Face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport, limits on gathering have gone and the work from home guidance has ended.

Nightclubs, theatres and restaurants can fully reopen, while pubs are no longer restricted to table service only.

But with Covid-19 cases continuing to soar and renewed warnings about the pressure on the NHS, the prime minister urged people to “go forward into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people”.

Mr Johnson is spending so-called “freedom day” self-isolating at his official country residence at Chequers after being “pinged” by NHS Test and Trace following a contact with health secretary Sajid Javid, who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

The prime minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also met Mr Javid on Friday, initially tried to dodge the requirement to quarantine by saying they would join a daily workplace testing programme being trialled by the Cabinet Office.

But they were forced into a hasty U-turn amid widespread public anger at their “special treatment”.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi on Monday insisted the government wasn’t “taking anyone for fools” as he struggled to defend the prime minister’s actions.

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Number of workers being ‘pinged’ by NHS app is biggest issue being raised by bosses, says business secretary

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has acknowledged the number of workers being “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app was the “single biggest issue” being raised with him by company bosses.

He told LBC “I accept it’s a difficult situation” but “there isn’t any movement on it”, and it would still be August 16 before there was a wider relaxation of the self-isolation requirement.

“I said I would make representations in government, I said I would try and see what could be done,” he said.

“We have taken a collective decision. There are lots of different views but we took a collective decision, I think this is the right decision.”

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 10:29

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‘Not a great look’ for Boris Johnson to be self-isolating on ‘freedom day’, says business secretary

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has acknowledged that it is “not a great look” for the Prime Minister to be self-isolating on the so-called “freedom day”.

He told LBC: “It’s not a great look but he has to do what everyone else is doing.”

Mr Kwarteng said he had the NHS Covid app and would “keep it on”.

“I might be pinged and then I’ll self-isolate, simple as that.”

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 10:17

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New quarantine rules for travellers come into effect

Thousands of travellers arriving in the UK are encountering drastic changes in self-isolation rules.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the full rundown of the tougher travel restrictions:

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 09:54

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New quarantine rules for travellers come into effect

Thousands of travellers arriving in the UK are encountering drastic changes in self-isolation rules.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the full rundown of the tougher travel restrictions:

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 09:54

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Minister insists government not ‘taking anyone for fools’

A cabinet minister has insisted the government isn’t “taking anyone for fools” as he struggled to defend Boris Johnson’s decision to dodge an instruction to self-isolate — before a humiliating U-turn.

The remarks from Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, came after the prime minister and chancellor Rishi Sunak dropped their plan to sidestep 10 days’ quarantine by signing up to a pilot scheme trialling daily testing.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has more on this story:

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 09:35

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Clubbers welcomed back for first time since start of pandemic

Clubbers were welcomed back onto dancefloors across England at one minute past midnight as Covid rules were eased.

Long queues formed at venues from London to Leeds as revellers returned to nightclubs for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

My colleague Tom Batchelor has more details:

Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 09:31

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Customers asked to wear face covering should ‘respect’ advice, says vaccines minister

Customers asked to wear a face covering when entering a shop in England should “respect” the advice, even though legal restrictions have been lifted, according to the vaccines minister.

Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast: “I think it is right that we now move from government by diktat because we’re wanting to get our lives back, get back to normality and get people to take personal responsibility, yes, but also corporate responsibility, and people should respect that.

“If you…



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