Boris Johnson to end coronavirus restrictions but self-employed support ‘must’ continue | Personal Finance | Finance


Boris Johnson addressed the UK live again tonight as the Prime Minister confirmed coronavirus restrictions will be halted completely from July 19 onwards, so long as vaccine progress continues. This includes the ending of social distancing, the need for wearing face masks and limitations on how many people can gather together.

As Mr Johnson began by breaking down how the vaccine(s) have limited risks and while they have not gone completely, now is the last chance to return to normality.

Mr Johnson detailed: “And we must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer, and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?

“And to those who say we should delay again, the alternative to that is to open up in winter when the virus will have an advantage, or not at all this year.

“And so, again without pre-empting the decision on July 12, let me set out today our five point plan for living with Covid, in the hope that it will give families and businesses time to prepare.”

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Mr Johnson went on to break down his plan for moving forward which focused around the following:

  • The Government will “reinforce its vaccine war” – reducing the dose interval for under 40s from 12 weeks to eight, so that everyone over 18 should be “double jabbed” by the middle of September. An autumn booster programme will follow this for the most vulnerable
  • The Government will “change the basic tools that we have used to control human behaviour” – moving away from legal restrictions.
  • The Government will continue to manage cases through the test and trace system in a way that is “proportionate to the pandemic”.
  • The Government will maintain “tough” border controls and will work with the travel industry to accomplish this.
  • The Government will “continue to monitor the data, and retain contingency measures to help manage the virus during higher risk periods, such as the winter”. In doing so, Mr Johnson assured he would do “everything possible” to avoid reimposing restrictions.

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This will be hugely relieving news to millions of British people who have had their lives upended for well over a year.

However, some have urged the Government to continue to support workers who have been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly the self-employed.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) warned the sheer financial damage to the self-employed sector means this news should not result in the ending of Government support.

It urged the Government to continue to monitor the situation of the “worst-hit groups and be ready with a stimulus package to get them back on their feet.”

Derek Cribb, the CEO of IPSE, commented on this.

He said: “The month-long delay to opening up was a serious blow to freelancers – particularly in the creative and events industries: the full reopening of the economy that is expected next month will be a huge relief to them.

“For the rest of the self-employed sector, however, the final reopening of the economy may have less of an impact.

“The wider self-employed sector – from IT contractors to graphic designers – has been financially hammered by the pandemic: the total number of freelancers has fallen by a truly shocking 14 percent.

“Among those who remain, especially the million or so freelancers who were excluded from support (such as limited company directors), the spectres of accumulated debt and increased competition for contracts loom large.

“As in previous economic downturns, however, the flexibility and tenacity of freelancers will be vital for the recovery effort.

“If they are to play this part and drive the recovery, there may be a need for a targeted stimulus package for the worst-affected groups.

“Government should monitor the situation of these groups and be ready to step in. The full reopening of the economy is very welcome, but because of the gaps in support and sheer damage to self-employment, this must not be the end of the Government’s involvement.”

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