Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister

Face masks will no longer be legally required and distancing rules will be scrapped at the final stage of England’s Covid-19 lockdown roadmap, Boris Johnson has confirmed.

The rule of six inside private homes will be removed and work-from-home guidance abolished as 16 months of on-off restrictions on daily life end.

The PM said he expected the final step would happen as planned on 19 July.

This will be confirmed on 12 July after a review of the latest data.

Further updates on school bubbles, travel and self-isolation will follow in the coming days, Mr Johnson said.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own coronavirus rules.

The Scottish government has said it may continue to require mask in certain settings even after 9 August, when it is hoped the final curbs will end.

Ahead of a review on 15 July in Wales, ministers said peoplev would need to learn to live with Covid. Rules in Northern Ireland have just eased, with another review due on 8 July.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Mr Johnson said the ability to end a vast majority of legal restrictions in England was thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout.

But he warned cases were predicted to rise to 50,000 a day later this month and said “we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid”.

The final stage of England’s roadmap, step four, was delayed last month to no earlier than 19 July amid surging virus cases linked to the Delta variant.

Mr Johnson said step four should proceed on that date, subject to a review of the latest data on 12 July.

Announcing what the next stage of the pandemic will look like in England, he confirmed:

An end to limits on attendance at weddings and funerals.

Table service rules at bars and restaurants and venue check-in requirements will be scrapped.

Limits on named care home visitors will be lifted.

Council powers to enforce rules will expire.

Large-scale events will not legally require certification.

It means nightclubs will reopen for the first time since the pandemic began, while ordering at the bar will return in a boost to the hospitality industry.

Social distancing requirements, including the 1m-plus rule, have prevented many venues from operating at full capacity during the pandemic.

Face coverings are currently required, for those without an exemption, on public transport and in shops as part of regulations backed by law.

Mr Johnson also said the gap between first and second vaccine jabs for the under-40s will be shortened from 12 weeks to eight.

Further announcements on schools, travel and self-isolation are expected this week.

A further 27,334 cases were reported across the UK on Monday, alongside another nine deaths within 28 days of a positive test.