All coronavirus restrictions, including facemasks and social distancing, were lifted in England on Monday, despite increasing case numbers.
Venues across the country were allowed to open their doors without any restrictions from midnight.
As the country moved to government’s Step 4, which lifts all remaining restrictions, the vaccine minister defended the decision, despite warnings from scientists and some opposition parties that it would be an early step.
Nadim Zawahi said the lifting of restrictions is the “right thing to do,” as school holidays start.
The Step 4 “means the majority of Covid restrictions have now ended, replaced with guidance emphasising personal judgement and responsibility,” according to a government statement.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation after being in close contact with Health Minister Sajid Javid, who tested positive for the virus.
In a video message on Sunday, Johnson said: “So please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.”
Johnson “called for all adults who have not yet received their first or second dose of the vaccine to come forward, to help protect themselves and others,” a statement said.
“Cases will continue to rise as set out from the start of the Roadmap, but the vaccination programme has substantially weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation or death,” the statement added.
Johnson also “emphasised the need to remain cautious as restrictions are lifted.”
“The pandemic is not yet over and moving to step 4 is a balance of risks. Cases across the UK and Europe are increasing, and the threat of a new variant remains,” according to the statement.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan previously said the facemask obligation on public transport will remain in place. He said he was not prepared to put public transport users at risk by relaxing the rules on face coverings.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the move is “reckless”.
“I think today is reckless and we don’t support the way the government is throwing away protections and throwing the caution to the wind,” he said, speaking to Sky News.
The average number of daily cases last week in England was more than 45,000 with new cases passed 50,000 mark a few days ago for the first time since mid-January. More than 316,000 people tested positive within the past week across the UK.
The official death toll in the country due to coronavirus stands at 128,708.