England lifts almost all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic on Monday on a day called "Freedom Day" and despite the increase in infections, which worries many scientists and politicians.
Covid-19 left more than 128.700 dead in the United Kingdom, where infections have skyrocketed for weeks. The country is the most affected in Europe by number of cases and exceeded 50.000 new infections daily for two days in a row.
Among those infected is Health Minister Sajid Javid, who was forced to isolate himself after testing positive on Saturday.
The day the country leaves the mandatory mask and social distancing behind, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Minister of Economy Rishi Sunak, contact cases, are serving a period of isolation.
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor Party, the main opposition formation, denounced a "chaotic" situation.
Despite the growing wave of infections, Boris Johnson confirmed the lifting of almost all remaining restrictions in England this Monday, the so-called "Freedom Day" ("Freedom Day"), preferring to rely on "individual responsibility" to fight against the virus.
Johnson is counting on the success of the vaccination campaign that began in December - with more than two-thirds of adults fully vaccinated - and that has "greatly weakened" the link between disease, hospital admissions, and deaths, allowing the public health system cope with the situation.
He also believes that the summer period is the "right time" to relax the rules, as authorities fear that other viruses, such as the flu, could worsen the situation in autumn.
However, in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, Johnson appealed to the public to act, underlining the "extreme contagiousness" of the Delta variant.
"Please be careful," he said.
This key stage in the deconfinement process was scheduled for June 21 but was delayed four weeks in order to vaccinate millions more people.
From midnight, venues and stadiums can reopen with full capacity, clubs can once again accept public, pubs can resume bar service and there is no longer a limit on the number of people who can meet
In addition, masks will no longer be mandatory but are recommended in transport and shops.
The other nations of the United Kingdom - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -, which have health competencies, adopted a more prudent calendar than England and maintain the obligation to wear a mask in closed public places and in transport.
Up to 100.000 new cases
The Labor opposition claims the government is "reckless" in the face of increasing infections from the highly contagious Delta variant.
The number of daily infections could reach 100.000 this summer, according to the Minister of Health himself.
A group of influential international scientists called on the British government to reverse its decision, which "runs the risk of undermining efforts to control the pandemic not only in the UK, but in other countries."
Even on Boris Johnson's own conservative side there are critical voices.
Former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt called the situation "very serious", with a growing number of hospital admissions that could lead the government to re-impose restrictions, as happened in Israel and the Netherlands.
There are currently around 550 Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the UK, up from more than 4.000 at the height of the second wave, in January.
On Monday, restrictions on the borders are also relaxed.
People who have been fully vaccinated in the UK and come from countries classified as 'amber', including many tourist destinations such as Italy and Spain, will no longer have to complete quarantine upon arrival.
The exception is France, due to the “persistent presence” of cases of the Beta variant, which worries the government about its resistance to the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in the UK / AFP.