Yesterday, 19 July, the majority of the UK lifted pandemic restrictions. The economy is expected to temporarily benefit, as all businesses can operate normally again. But there are risks amid concerns over the delta variant.
It was the moment millions in the United Kingdom have yearned for over the past 16 months: the removal of all pandemic restrictions. July 19 is "freedom day," as many politicians from the ruling Conservative Party dubbed it.
Public health experts are still gravely concerned, though. Many say it was too soon to drop all remaining measures, considering the spread of the coronavirus delta variant across the country. The UK government's own scientific advisory group has warned of the uncertain consequences.
But for many business owners, there is relief at being able to operate normally again. All businesses, including nightclubs, bars and theatres, are now able to operate without restrictions.
COVID-19-related capacity limits are gone, while measures such as mask wearing and social distancing will be left to personal choice and without any mandatory enforcement.
One of the only rules that remains in place is that anyone who tests positive for the virus, or who is in close contact with someone who does, will have to self-isolate for a certain period, depending on age and vaccination status.
Large indoor event organizers are being encouraged to introduce certification meas