The ending of most legal coronavirus restrictions in England next week “should not be taken as an invitation by everybody simply to have a great jubilee and freedom from any kind of caution or restraint”, the prime minister has said.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Boris Johnson said it is “absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution” as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted on 19 July.

“I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough: this pandemic is not over.”

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The PM said that from next Monday “we cannot simply revert instantly to life as it was before COVID”, as he stressed the need for “constant vigilance” and “thinking about others as well as yourself”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed in the Commons earlier that step four of England’s roadmap out of COVID restrictions will go ahead next Monday, 19 July.

Latest government data shows the UK has reported 34,471 new cases and six more coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

It is the sixth day in a row where total cases have been more than 30,000.

Step four will see social distancing rules and limits on social contact removed across the country.

All remaining businesses that have been closed during the pandemic, such as nightclubs, will be allowed to reopen.

The legal requirement to wear face masks on public transport and in shops will also be lifted.

But despite this, the government is recommending that people keep wearing them in crowded places such as on trains, trams and buses – but not venues such as nightclubs.

In addition, businesses and large event organisers will be encouraged to use so-called “COVID passports” – proof of double vaccination, negative test or recovery from coronavirus – in “high-risk” settings in order to limit the spread of infections in their venues.

This appears to mark a change in approach from last week – and is likely to spark a backlash as the idea has proven controversial.

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