The long-awaited day has arrived in England, but perhaps not at the best time. After almost a year and a half of waiting, the English are celebrating what they have been demanding for so long: the end of restrictions. A date, July 19, marked on the calendar by many as Freedom Day. A day that was originally scheduled for June 21, but which Boris Johnson’s government decided to postpone until July, considering that the necessary conditions for relaxation had not yet been met.

One month later, England recorded only this Saturday 50,000 new infections. These figures, however, have not prevented the plan from going ahead and the restrictions have almost completely disappeared since Monday. Pressure from within the Conservative Party, as well as from an important part of English society, has forced Johnson and his team to put an end to any trace of limitations for the population. Social distance is no longer compulsory, as is the use of a face mask, although the latter may be requested by establishments at the entrance and is still recommended on public transport. Likewise, there will no longer be a limited number of people at social gatherings, although it is advised that these continue to take place outdoors. But perhaps the sector that will celebrate this day the most is the nightlife sector, since for the first time since March 2020, nightclubs will be able to reopen their doors and without any capacity limitation. However, it is recommended that establishments such as these or in those places where large events are organized, a Covid certificate is requested at the entrance. Through a mobile application of the National Health System (NHS), English people will be able to show if they are doubly vaccinated, have already passed the disease at some point, or have had a recent test.

Finally, all those who continue to work from home are also encouraged to gradually return to their usual places of work. Although many had already done so, the government had recommended that, if possible, they should continue to telework. Although many are celebrating this day as if it were the end of the coronavirus pandemic, and in spite of the great effort made in the vaccination campaign – with more than 50% of the British with the complete pattern – Boris Johnson warns that it is necessary to remain calm, since the health crisis “is not over”. A pandemic that has once again made itself felt harshly on the island, with a new wave continuing to grow rapidly.

The number of infections and deaths is increasing every day and the peak of this wave is not expected until mid-August, when up to 100,000 infections per day could be reached. In addition, a return to 100 and 200 deaths in 24 hours is expected at the worst time, as well as between 1,000 and 2,000 hospitalizations. “We can’t suddenly go back to pre-covid life. It is still dangerous for you and your family,” warns Johnson. A warning with which the prime minister intends to raise awareness among the population to avoid a new step backwards. A potential new confinement seems, for the moment, ruled out, but it could depend on the attitude of the English to this new normality.

The rapid vaccination campaign continues to be the main instrument with which the United Kingdom intends to halt the advance of new variants such as Delta, which already accounts for the vast majority of the new cases detected on the island. A “protective wall”, as Health Minister Sajid Javid defines the campaign, with which to “resist a summer wave”. Javid reported this Saturday that he had been infected with coronavirus despite being vaccinated with the full vaccination schedule. Both Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak had close contact with Javid when he tested positive, so, according to regulations, they had to isolate themselves as a precaution. However, both initially assured that they would participate in a pilot project whereby they would be tested daily, rather than quarantined. This decision was quickly criticized by the opposition, who considered that there was “one rule for them and another for the rest”. Finally, and after the controversy that arose, both Johnson and Sunak will remain isolated for a few days, as indicated in the regulations governing all British citizens. Javid’s contagion is also a warning to those who may be overconfident on Freedom Day.

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