THE use of domestic vaccine passports and face masks will be encouraged as ministers set out a cautious approach to England’s ‘freedom day’ on July 19 in response to soaring coronavirus cases.

Experts fear there could be 200 deaths a day as cases surge, despite the protection offered by the vaccination campaign.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and - I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough - this pandemic is not over.

“This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family.

“We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday, July 19 to life as it was before Covid.

“We will stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and to lift social distancing, but we expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport.”

Mr Johnson warned that July 19 ‘should not be taken as an invitation by everybody simply to have a great jubilee and freedom from any kind of caution or restraint’.

He said he still hoped the road map was ‘irreversible’ but, ‘in order to have that, it has also got to be a cautious approach’.

Although the Government order to work from home where possible will lift from Monday, ministers encouraged firms to implement a gradual return to the workplace.

Nightclubs, which will be able to reopen on July 19 after being shut since the first lockdown in March 2020, and other venues with crowds should use vaccine passports for entry ‘as a matter of social responsibility’, Mr Johnson said.

The Covid Pass on the NHS app shows proof of a person having had a double vaccination, a recent negative test or possessing natural immunity after recovering from coronavirus.

Although its use will be voluntary at first, if cases continue to rise the Government could consider making it mandatory in certain venues in future.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that the current wave of cases would mean more hospital admissions and deaths.

But he said: “We’ve come to a stage in the pandemic when there is no easy answer and no obvious date for unlocking.”

Under current modelling, the peak of the wave is not expected before mid-August, when there could be 1,000 to 2,000 hospital admissions per day, with deaths expected to reach between 100 and 200 per day - though there is a large amount of uncertainty.

The latest data showed:

- As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 34,471 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

- A further six people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total by that measure to 128,431.

- Up to July 11, 45,923,721 people had received a first vaccine dose - up 42,000 on the day before - while 34,872,131 had had both jabs, an increase of 107,620.