Step Four and Easing COVID-19 Restrictions

England moved to step four of the roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions on 19 July. 

Most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 are being lifted as part of step four. This means that: 

  • You do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There will also be no limits on the number of people you can meet.
  • However, to minimise risk, the Government recommends limiting the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with and gradually increasing close contact. The Government has also advised meeting outdoors where possible and letting fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport. The Mayor of London has asked Transport for London (TfL) to keep the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport as a condition of travel on all TfL services after 19 July. Some businesses are also still encouraging customers to continue wearing face masks. 
  • There are no limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals, communal worship and other life events (including receptions and celebrations). 


  • The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home. However, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer.
  • All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues can reopen.
  • All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events will be lifted.
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars are no longer required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules.
  • Businesses are encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check-in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace. However, this will no longer be a legal requirement.

Managing risk

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the Government’s ‘Working Safely’ guidance

Employers still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify.

The ‘Working Safely’ guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider, including:

  • Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly.
  • Identifying poorly ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve airflow.
  • Ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue.
  • Communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

The Government is also encouraging organisations in higher-risk settings to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be close to others outside their household. 

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