All businesses in England are now allowed to carry out activities as they did before the pandemic, after most lockdown restrictions ended at one minute past midnight.
In the so-called ‘Freedom Day’, events such as concerts, theatres, sports events can resume with no limit on guests at weddings, funerals and religious services.
Social distancing limits are being scrapped with the 1m distance rule removed in all but places such as hospitals.
In hospitality, nightclubs can finally reopen after being shut for more than fifteen months while table service in pubs is being scrapped.
People were queuing up to enter clubs on Sunday night after many venues with indoor-only spaces were forced to close for up to 16 months.
???? | NEW: Massive queue to get into a club that opens in 13 minutes
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) July 18, 2021
However, a survey by YouGov reported that 73% of Britons that used to go dancing before the pandemic now feel uncomfortable going back.
Around 59% are feeling uncomfortable about going to a large indoor event, with the figure dropping to 41% for outdoor fixtures.
Even though businesses are celebrating, the UK is facing a ‘pingdemic’ with thousands of people being notified to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app.
August 16 deadline to remain
Ministers though insisted that the rules would not be changed until 16 August, when people who come into contact with the virus no longer have to isolate if they have been vaccinated.
Calls for tweaks to the NHS app software to make it less sensitive have also been rejected.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, said quarantine measures for people who come into contact with the virus needed to stay until vaccine coverage is higher.
Scientists are insisting there is no relaxation of the self-isolation rules until the current peak of infections passes.
Some were suggesting today that the peak might as high as 200,000 infections a day by September or almost four times as high as the previous peak.
“Investors are extremely worried that we’ve lifted restrictions too soon and that another lockdown could be a month or two round the corner,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
“Lots of people have been vaccinated and assumed they had become invincible. Reality is now striking as many of these individuals get a wake-up call by catching Covid or being pinged and told to isolate.”
“The big concern for the market is whether we going to see a slowdown in the global economic recovery, and this could be the overriding force which results in a bad period for equities in the weeks ahead.”
Travel and hospitality stocks took a pounding as the gloomy mood spread.
— adds share prices, 16 August comment —