In a step that has been slammed by scientists and opposition parties, the UK government on Monday, 19 July, lifted all COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in daily life.
The curbs on daily life, which were removed on Sunday midnight, mandated wearing faces masks, maintaining two-metre social distance when in public and working from home if they can.
The removal of the curbs also mean that nightclubs in the country are now also allowed to reopen for the first time since the UK went into lockdown in March 2020.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who is currently self-isolating after the UK's health minister was diagnosed with COVID – urged the public to remain cautious and get vaccinated.
"If we don't do it now, then we'll be opening up in the autumn, the winter months, when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather," the prime minister said in a video message.
However, the move has also been slammed by the scientific community as the Delta variant of the virus spreads across the country.
“I can’t think of any realistic good scenario to come out of this strategy, I’m afraid,” reported AP , quoting Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester. “I think it’s really a degree of how bad it’s going to be,” she added.
In a BBC interview, Professor Neil Fergusson of The Imperial College of London warned that the country was on course for 100,000 daily cases as the virus continues to spread.
As restrictions were lifted, many dubbed 19 July as “Freedom Day”. However, according to a poll conducted by YouGov UK, 60 percent UK residents feel nervous about the restrictions being removed.
The United Kingdom on 18 July reported 47,599 fresh cases of COVID-19.
(With inputs from AP and BBC.)