Boris Johnson has announced he intends social distancing and face mask laws in England to be lifted on July 19.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Monday, the prime minister said the pandemic was “far from over”.
And he warned not was not the time to get “demob happy” as it was not the “end of Covid.”
But he said if lockdown rules could not be lifted in summer then there it was not clear when they could ever be.
“If we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer, and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves ‘when will we be able to return to normal?’ he said.
“And to those who say we should delay again – the alternative to that is to open up in winter when the virus will have an advantage, or not at all this year.”
The decision to press ahead with the end of England’s lockdown will be dependent on a government review of the data on July 12.
Under the plan there will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can gather inside or outside.
All remaining businesses will be able to reopen including nightclubs. Pubs and restaurants will not be restricted to table service.
Sports stadiums will be allowed to return to full capacity.
The legal requirement to wear face coverings, including on public transport, will be removed.
But guidance will suggest people might choose to keep wearing a mask in crowded places if they wish.
And appearing alongside Johnson at the press conference, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said he would continue to wear a mask in “three situations”.
“Particularly at this point when the epidemic is clearly significant and rising,” he said.
“The first is in any situation which was indoors and crowded, or indoors with close proximity to other people and that is because masks help protect other people – this is a thing we do to protect other people, this is by far its principal aim.
“The second situation I’d do it is if I was required to by any competent authority. I would have no hesitation about doing that and I would consider that was a reasonable and sensible thing if they had good reason to do that.
“And the third reason is if someone else was uncomfortable if I did not wear a mask, as a point of common courtesy of course I would wear a mask so under all those circumstances I would do so.”
While the 1m-plus social distancing rule will largely be lifted, it will remain in force at the borders, including airports.
From July 19 the government will also no longer instruct people to work from home.
The limit on the number of people who can visit care home residents will be scrapped.
There will be no legal domestic requirement for the use of so-called Covid passports.
But businesses will be able to voluntarily adopt a checking system using the NHS app.
The gap between vaccine doses for under-40s will also be reduced from 12 weeks to eight, meaning that all adults will have the opportunity to be double-jabbed by mid-September.
Later this week, transport secretary Grant Shapps will give an update on plans to remove the need for fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries to isolate.
And education secretary Gavin Williamson will set out his plans for schools amid concern about the impact of the bubble system.