Yesterday marked the end of legal restrictions that have curtailed both individual freedom and businesses from operating at capacity since last March.
The delayed Step Four of Boris Johnson’s road map saw an end to all legal restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather both in private and public.
Restaurants no longer have to offer table service only, and there is no legal requirement for customers to “check in” to QR codes via the NHS app.
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.
But tourism destinations including Jorvik Viking Centre in York and Temple Newsam in Leeds have asked that visitors continue to wear masks indoors.
In Leeds city centre, PRYZM nightclub welcomed mask-less revellers at a midnight launch party to mark the first time clubs have been able to open their dancefloors in over a year.
But in a markedly shifted tone, the Prime Minister has rowed back in recent weeks from claiming that the loosening of restrictions is “irreversible” as cases of the Delta variant have shot up 43.3 per cent over the past week.
Some 742 people were hospitalised yesterday and a further 19 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were recorded.
Yesterday the Prime Minister delivered a press conference from Chequers, his country residence, where he urged caution and confirmed vaccination passports will be required for nightclubs by the end of September by which point all over 18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed.
Mr Johnson, alongside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, is currently self-isolating after being in contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for the virus over the weekend.
And Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the Government of putting lives at risk for continuing with plans to loosen restrictions despite coronavirus cases reaching their highest rates since January.
Asked whether he was comfortable with nightclubs reopening and social distancing being dropped, he said: “The big difference between us is that we think lifting all these restrictions, all these protections, in one go today is reckless.
“Masks, working from home if you can and ventilation plans are the three things that Sage identified as materially keeping the infection rates down.”
Later, Mr Starmer tweeted: “Labour does not support the Government’s plan.
“Boris Johnson’s incompetence will have deadly consequences for the British public.”