"We firmly believe that this is the right time to bring our nation closer to normal life, so we will move to the next phase of our plan on July 19," Health Minister Sajid Javid announced in Parliament.

The government stated that the four tests defined for easing of lockdown rules have been fulfilled, namely the success of the vaccination, indications that the vaccines are reducing hospitalisations and deaths, that infection rates are not at risk of overloading health services and that no new variant may be particularly dangerous.

However, he also acknowledged that the number of infections will continue to rise and potentially reach 100,000 new cases a day in the summer.

The minister said that, although the measures are no longer mandatory by law, recommendations will continue to be made to people and companies to respect social distancing to prevent transmission of the virus.

Javid also said that those who work from home can "return to the [workplace] gradually", and noted that it was "expected and recommended" that people wear masks in enclosed spaces with lots of people, such as public transport.

Scotland is expected to lift further restrictions on 19 July and 9 August, Northern Ireland expects to ease the rules on 26 July, while Wales is expected to give more details on next steps later this week.

In the last seven days, between 06 and 12 July, the daily average was 29 deaths and 32,599 cases, which corresponds to an increase of 56.2% in the number of deaths and 28.1% in the number of infections in relation to seven days earlier.

Since December, 45,923,721 people have been vaccinated, corresponding to 87.2% of the adult population, and 34,872,131 million people, or 66.2% of the adult population, have already been fully vaccinated.