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Face masks, social distancing and ‘Rule of Six’ could be ditched on July 19

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

All remaining coronavirus restrictions including social distancing, face masks and the work-from-home guidance could be lifted on July 19, according to a report.

The Government is expected to confirm next week that July 5 is too early to lift the measures while more people receive their second vaccine.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson is increasingly optimistic, according to the Times, that all remaining restrictions can be eased on July 19.

A source told the newspaper that ministers want to “get as close to normal as possible” on July 19 and that the emphasis will be on “personal responsibility” rather than laws

The requirement to wear face masks on public transport and in shops will reportedly be replaced with guidance advising people to wear them in some places.

Individuals and employers will also be left to decide for themselves over the work-from-home guidance.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said the Government was “on track" for the July 19 easing of restrictions, but acknowledged that opening up travel abroad is "more difficult".

"Thankfully, because of the vaccination programme, we have been able to free up a huge number of the restrictions here at home," he told Sky News.

"We are on track to deliver the Step 4, the further openings, on July 19, which is good.

"We are also looking to see how we can replace the protections that are currently there with the restrictions with protections that come from the vaccine, with respect to international travel as well.

"But it is more difficult freeing up international travel."

The latest developments come as the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 in the UK reached its highest level for nearly two months.

A total of 1,378 patients were in hospital on June 20, according to the latest Government figures.

This is up 21 per cent from the previous week and is the highest since April 29.

It is also up 58 per cent from the 870 patients recorded on May 27, which was the lowest number since the second wave of the virus.

The figures are still well below those recorded at the peak of the second wave.

A total of 39,254 Covid-19 patients were in hospital on January 18 – the highest at any point since the pandemic began.

The figures come as the average number of daily reported cases of Covid-19 in the UK topped 10,000 for the first time since late February.

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