Freedom Day: Advice from Yorkshire health chief is 'keep masked and get jabbed'

“Keep masked and get jabbed. We don’t want to go back to square one” – that’s the advice from Sheffield’s health chief as the city approaches Freedom Day.

Director of Public Health Greg Fell believes the Government did make the right decision in easing all restrictions from Monday, July 19 but is advising people to stay cautious.

“The roadmap is over but Covid definitely is not over,” he said. “There is a lot of it around and rates are going up quite quickly, mostly in ages 15 to 40. The vaccine has done its job as hospitalisations are not going up but I still have several concerns.

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“A lot of businesses are struggling with staff isolating, it’s a particular issue in the NHS, social care and schools but also in the hospitality sector because most of their staff are in the 18-35 age bracket.

Greg Fell

“Running a pub has become difficult. It’s an immense concern for both the public and private sector. My second concern is Long Covid because it sounds horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

“And we are twitchy about the Delta variant because you can see the transmissibility of it. I think we have dodged a bullet – imagine a scenario where a variant emerges and the vaccine doesn’t work. Every time there is a transmission there is a potential for a mutation.”

Mr Fell says the July 19 easing of restrictions was “inevitable”.

“The Government made the least bad choice. Further delays would have incurred massive social and economic harm and pushed the peak further into autumn and winter and we would be in an even worse situation than now.

“We still need to take care. I will continue to wear my mask for some time to come. I can still become poorly and I can still infect others. The evidence shows masks do make a difference.

“The vaccine has been a mindblowing effort but there are still 15,000 people aged over 50 that have not had their first dose. Some don’t want it and that’s their choice but there are some people we have missed.”