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People want to ditch face coverings but still wear them in crowds in mixed reaction to July 19 plans

Shoppers say they will ditch masks while eating in pubs and restaurants but still plan to wear them in crowded places as they reacted to Boris Johnson‘s new ‘Freedom Day’ plans.   

The Prime Minister is set to announce the end of social distancing rules, the work from home order, and mask laws in a highly-anticipated press conference at 5pm today. 

The PM will signal a sharp shift in approach, saying people must use their common sense on Covid risks rather than being compelled by the state. 

But the news has been met with mixed reaction from people across the country, with some saying they cannot wait to ditch their face coverings, while others called the government’s announcement ‘premature’. 

Brandon Walsh a charity fundraiser from Northfield, Birmingham, said: ‘Once it’s not mandatory I definitely won’t.

‘I have been wearing mine in the places you have to but there’s no chance after July 19.

Self employed seamstress Hilary Gunton, 59, from Redditch, Worcs., said she cannot wait to see the end of masks as she welcomed Boris Johnson’s expected annoucement today

Brandon Walsh

David Pardo

David Pardo (pictured right) said he would ditch the face coverings in the pub and larger supermarkets, while Brandon Walsh says there is ‘no chance’ he will be wearing masks after July 19

Boris Johnson is to declare an end to most lockdown restrictions from July 19 at a press conference later today

Boris Johnson is to declare an end to most lockdown restrictions from July 19 at a press conference later today

‘It should be our decision whether we do, if other people still want to it’s up to them.’

The 24-year-old added: ‘I think if people are worried about the virus they should get vaccinated like I’ve been.

‘If you have an weakened immune system for whatever reason you are at risk but I don’t think we should carry one wearing masks for that reason.

Chloe Baker, 28, PR manager from Kidderminster, Worcs., slammed those who were critical of masks and said the government's decision appeared 'premature'

Chloe Baker, 28, PR manager from Kidderminster, Worcs., slammed those who were critical of masks and said the government’s decision appeared ‘premature’ 

‘It’s an airborne virus so I don’t really understand how masks help anyway.’

Hilary Gunton, 59, seamstress from Redditch, Worcs., also said: ‘I can’t wait to not have to wear masks, the law’s stopped me from doing things I enjoy because I find masks so uncomfortable and difficult to talk and breathe in them.

‘It’s stopped me from having a lot of interaction because I live alone and have only seen close family and friends.’

But others disagreed, saying that they will continue to wear masks on public transport, in shops and in public places.

The chances of larger crowds are set to increase if social distancing guidelines are removed. 

The one-metre plus decree and advice to work from home where possible will be dropped are among the restrictions set to be dropped.

Mask wearing will also no longer be mandatory, it is understood, while pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at the bar. 

Despite the changes, Joanna Dunne will be keeping her mask firmly on, calling the government’s expected announcement ‘irresponsible’.   

Finance manager Elise Hewett, 36, from Rugby, Warwickshire, said she would still wear masks on packed trains even if the advice changes

Finance manager Elise Hewett, 36, from Rugby, Warwickshire, said she would still wear masks on packed trains even if the advice changes

pPainter and decorator Thomas Benson, 60, added: 'I'm definitely going to keep wearing masks because I think it's best for safety'

pPainter and decorator Thomas Benson, 60, added: ‘I’m definitely going to keep wearing masks because I think it’s best for safety’

The 23-year-old bereavement worker from Leeds, said: ‘I will still wear my mask even after then because cases are still going up.

‘It’s still a deadly disease and we’re just starting to see some great progress.

‘But we’ve been through a number of lockdowns because the government acted too hastily.

Time for the bar! From table service to working from home, those changing rules 

Boris Johnson is to declare an end to most lockdown restrictions from July 19 today, with social distancing rules, the work from home order, and mask mandates to be ditched as he will argue that we must learn to live with coronavirus as we do with the flu.

The Prime Minister will use a press conference this afternoon to confirm a bonfire of virus rules and restrictions from the so-called Freedom Day later this month, in which he will say that individuals will again be able to judge the risks of coronavirus for themselves. 

PUBS AND RESTAURANTS

Hospitality venues in England will no longer be required to collect track and trace data from July 19. Businesses won’t have to ask customers to scan a QR code using the NHS phone app on entry or to hand over their contact details, although they will have the option of continuing to do so if they wish. Mandatory table service rules will also be scrapped, meaning drinkers will be able to order at the bar again in pubs.

MASKS

Wearing masks will become voluntary everywhere apart from hospitals and other health facilities from July 19 in England. Public transport passengers, shoppers and those visiting pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres will no longer be required by law to cover up. However, people may still be encouraged to wear masks in some enclosed places where they come into close contact with each other, for example on London Tube trains.

HOLIDAYS

Double-jabbed Britons will be allowed to enjoy a foreign break without having to isolate when they return to England. People who have had both vaccine doses will no longer have to quarantine for ten days after visiting amber list countries, such as Spain, France and Greece. It is possible the change to the travel rules will come into force on July 19, but Government sources last night cautioned that this date is seen as ‘ambitious’.

TEST AND TRACE

People in England who have received both coronavirus vaccine doses will no longer have to isolate at home for ten days if they have come into contact with someone who tests positive. They will be offered lateral flow tests to do themselves at home instead, although these will not be compulsory. The change could come into force on July 19, although the date has not yet been finalised.

SCHOOLS

The bubbles system that has seen whole classes or year groups sent home if just one pupil tests positive for coronavirus will be scrapped in England. Ministers are planning to announce a new way of handling outbreaks ready for the new school year in September. Instead of sending children home en masse, those who have come into contact with a positive case are likely to be given daily tests.

WORK FROM HOME

The official guidance telling people to ‘work from home if you can’ will be scrapped on July 19 in England. But it will be left up to employers and their staff to decide whether they have to go back to their desks. Ministers will not launch a campaign encouraging staff back to the office and are resigned to there not being a mass return to workplaces this summer.

‘We’ve been through a long year and a half, I think it’s worth waiting a little bit longer to ensure we do get through this.’ 

David Pardo, a 53-year-old property manager from Telford, Shropshire, agreed that he wil keep wearing masks on public transport – but said he would ditch the face coverings in the pub and larger supermarkets. 

He told Mail Online: ‘I’m very much looking forward to freedom day but I will keep wearing a mask after July 19 on public transport like the train when I come into work.

‘After freedom day though I won’t want to wear one when getting up in pubs and restaurants, I don’t see the point in that.

‘I wouldn’t wear one in larger shops like supermarkets but I think it still makes sense in smaller shops when they’re busy.

‘I can’t see the day when I would never wear a mask and I’ll be keeping an eye on cases over the autumn to decide if I start wearing one more.

‘I’m double jabbed now so I feel comfortable now around other people although I understand if people do want to carry one wearing masks.’ 

Thomas Benson, 60, painter and decorator from Birmingham city centre, added: ‘I’m definitely going to keep wearing masks because I think it’s best for safety.

‘Wearing one doesn’t bother me much and I’ll keep mine on in shops and public transports, but maybe not in the pub.

‘I think it’s good it won’t be required by law so people can make a personal choice.

‘If other people don’t want to it’s up to them.

‘In my opinion we should expect another lockdown in a few months given the rise in cases.

‘I don’t believe a word that Boris says and I even think mask wearing will become law again.’ 

Elise Hewett, 36, finance manager from Rugby, Warks., added: ‘I might still wear one in public areas depending on the circumstances.

‘I don’t get buses because of covid but if I was getting on the train at Snowhill when you’re packed like sardines I probably would.

‘In certain large, crowded shops like Primark I probably would do, but I wouldn’t bother in a small corner shop.

‘I can understand if other people want to because not everyone has the same level of confidence, it’s right it’s personal choice.

‘If a pub or restaurant says you have to wear a mask I would be fine with that if it makes them more comfortable.’

Chloe Baker, 28, PR manager from Kidderminster, Worcs., slammed those who were critical of masks and said the government’s decision appeared ‘premature’.

She said: ‘I think the billing of freedom day is unhelpful because we are free to do lots of things at the moment, it’s not as if you can’t breathe.

‘It makes it sound like we are being released from prison.

‘Making masks optional when cases are rising as they are seems a bit early.

‘I don’t think people would mind wearing them a little bit longer after all this time, we have been told to wear them for however long because they work to prevent infection.

‘The issue is that we’re told masks protect other people more than yourself which could put vulnerable people at risk because of personal preference.

‘I’ll wear my mask in all the places we have to at the moment for my own peace of mind and for other people’s safety.

‘I’ve only had one jab myself and people at work have had covid after getting one dose, so I think we need to keep wearing masks for a bit longer until more people are double jabbed.

‘At the moment I think that is only 60% of the population.’


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