People shielding against coronavirus can now leave their home and return to work, as a further easing of lockdown restrictions in England is postponed.
More than two million at high risk will no longer need to isolate in most of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It comes after the PM applied the brakes to easing restrictions further and as some businesses remain closed.
England’s chief medical officer warned the UK may have reached the limit on lifting lockdown as cases rise.
Prof Chris Whitty said the “idea that we can open up everything and keep the virus under control” is wrong.
Asked whether it was safe for England’s schools to fully reopen to all pupils in the autumn, Prof Whitty said it was a “difficult balancing act” but “we have probably reached near the limit, or the limits, of what we can do in terms of opening up society”.
Meanwhile, a new report suggests more than half of the people furloughed during the pandemic are now back at work, as companies begin contributing to the costs.
When lockdown began in March, those considered extremely clinically vulnerable – an estimated 2.2 million people in England – were advised to stay at home, or shield, to avoid contracting Covid-19.
People in high-risk categories include those who have had an organ transplant, are receiving immunosuppression drugs, undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or have severe respiratory conditions.
Now, they can return to work if they cannot work from home and as long as their workplace is Covid-secure. It is still advised they maintain social distancing when outside.
From Saturday, those who were shielding in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will no longer receive food boxes and medicine deliveries from the government.