A leaked document gave a glimpse of the UK’s potential ‘new normal’ today with facemasks, working from home and travel quarantine rules set to stay even beyond July 19 – as MPs have now voted through Boris Johnson’s Freedom Day delay.
The Whitehall paper suggests that the government will stop short of urging workers to return to offices even after the new target for lifting restrictions finally arrives. There is also a suggestion that face masks will be needed in some settings long-term, as well as keeping post-travel isolation rules.
Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms will still be expected to isolate, according to the draft proposals. And fears have been raised that more restrictions will be needed if the disease surges again in the winter.
The document – seen by Politico – emerged as Boris Johnson’s crunch bill to delay the return to freedom passed through the House of Commons, winning 461 ayes and 60 noes. Victory was guaranteed for the government as Labour threw its backing behind the extension of the brutal restrictions.
For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.
It comes after furious Tories rounded on Mr Johnson, Matt Hancock and the Government’s scientific advisers over the extension of Covid restrictions in England. They cast doubt on the Prime Minister’s commitment that July 19 would be a ‘terminus’ date for the lockdown after he was forced to postpone easing restrictions on June 21.
The shift from Mr Johnson, amid warnings from scientists that the Indian variant will cause thousands more deaths, has incensed many Conservatives who argue that vaccines have protected the most vulnerable and the country must learn to live with the virus.
Downing Street later said it did not recognise the Politco document and it ‘does not reflect the latest Government thinking’.
Read more: Facemasks forever, working from home, self-isolation and travel quarantine to stay, and MORE restrictions in winter? Leaked Step 4 Whitehall document reveals how ‘new normal’ could look even AFTER July 19 new Freedom Day – WAKE UP PEOPLE for goodness sake