In the infamous words of Mel Gibson’s William Wallace in ’90s feature film Braveheart: ‘Och… I’ve been pinged’
So cover yourself with woad, the day we’ve been patiently waiting for for sixteen months is finally here. So-called ‘Freedom Day’ began at midnight with nightclubs throwing open their doors and continued for the rest of the day with the odd person removing their masks while they push a trolley round Sainsbury’s.
So what has actually changed today?
WFH Is Now WFW
Working from work is back on! And your daily regime just got way less convenient. The government guidelines change today to say that you no longer have to work from home ‘if you can’.
If you’ve rather enjoyed the 20 second commute to your kitchen table at 9am and wearing pyjamas until early evening then this morning was a rude awakening.
Six-thirty alarms, suits that are now bursting at the seams and the requirement to at least make a semblance of effort beyond updating your Zoom filter are all now part of daily life again.
House parties are a thing again
The engines of clown cars have not been started for 16 months now. But with the scrapping of rule-of-six and restrictions lifted around outdoor gatherings, all that can change.
So if we’ll always find you in the kitchen at parties, then you’re ready to sparkle again. You can now legally cram as many people into your studio apartment as is humanly possible.
Outdoors, invite 100,000 friends down for a barbie. Boris can’t do anything about it.
Cinemas and clubs are back on
Cinemas have been running at reduced capacity while nightclubs have been empty until today.
Clubs across the nation opened their doors at midnight and dry ice wafts once more. Boris has encouraged them to ask for vaccination or test result proof, but there is no legal requirement for them to do this.
Another potential super-spreader occasion will now be the cinema, with picture houses once again able to fill to the rafters.
Don’t keep your social distance
If you want to invade a stranger’s personal space without breaking the law, then you can.
The already a little bit hazy ‘one metre plus’ rule has been dropped from today. This means that shops can stop limiting numbers of shoppers, the lady with the clicker outside TKMaxx can be redeployed and things will start to feel normal again.
This will particularly be noticeable in restaurants and pubs, where the chance means that table service is no longer required and people can mill around in bar areas once again.
So it’s back to trying to catch the barman’s eye as everyone throngs to order a pint, I’m afraid…
The great unmasking begins…
Last summer the government came to the mask game late but strong, with mandatory mask wearing indoors required for adults.
Well now you can burn your mask, if you want to, unless you plan on taking any London public transport, Ubers, going into hospitals or wish to be sensible in crowded spaces.
The legal requirement to wear a mask, outside a small number of settings, has been jettisoned and replaced with personal responsibility to not be a total idiot. Let’s see how that pans out..
And you can sort-of travel again
Amber list counties will no longer require quarantine on return, providing you’re under 18 or double-vaccinated.
The exception here is France, after a last minute amendment from the government that was, frankly, pretty weird.
The guidance against travelling to these countries has also been dropped but, of course, Brits are not necessarily welcome overseas with countries keen to limit the spread of the UK’s dominant variant, the Delta.
Of course it remains to be seen how long these newly rediscovered freedoms last, or indeed how much they contribute to the further spread of covid. The infection numbers are sky-rocketing right now, though the vaccine does seem to be doing its job of reducing hospitalisations and, most importantly, deaths.
We now have our freedom, the unanswered question will now be, for how long?