The easing of restrictions will go ahead on July 19, though people have been warned not to revert back to normal, and be cautious in the face of the ongoing risk of the virus.

The end of restrictions means nightclubs can open and pubs and restaurants no longer need to operate table service only.

There will no longer be any limits on people attending concerts, theatres, sports events, weddings and funerals

However nightclubs and other large event organisers are being told they should ask for proof that people have had their jab.

Confirming that most Covid rules in England will be lifted on 19 July, health secretary Sajid Javid encouraged event organisers to require attendees to show so-called vaccine passports.

However, the government’s guidance is not mandatory meaning organisers would not be legally required to follow it.

Javid said the government “firmly believe that this is the right time to get our nation closer to normal life”. 

He said: “To those who say, why take this step now? I say, if not now, when? There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus. Whether we like it or not, coronavirus is not going away.

“But moving forward next week, supported by the arrival of summer and the school holidays, it gives us the best possible chance of a return to normal life.

“If we wait longer, then we risk pushing the virus towards winter, when the virus will have an advantage or worse still, we will not be opening up at all.

“We delayed that four by four weeks so we can build our vaccine wall, even higher. And we believe this wall means that we cannot withstand a summer wave.

“And while the wall would be higher still if we waited till winter, we know the wave would be much more dangerous.

“So while we know there are risks with any decision, this is the most responsible decision that we can take. This step forward is about balancing the harms that are caused by Covid with the undeniable harms that restrictions bring.” 

Speaking after Javid’s address to the House of Commons, the prime minister gave a press conference at 10 Downing Street. 

He said there was “no easy answer and no obvious date” for unlocking the country of restrictions, with cases rising “significantly”.

He warned there would be more hospitalisations and deaths from Covid, and that it was “absolutely vital” the country proceeds with caution.

He said: “This pandemic is not over… we cannot revert to life as it was before Covid.”

While saying the government would stick to its plan to lift legal restrictions and social distancing, he advised people to continue to wear face masks in crowded places.

The instruction to work from home will be removed, but Johnson said he didn’t expect everyone to return to work straight away, with guidance being issues for a gradual return to work.