Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that social distancing requirements will be removed in pubs and restaurants, while face masks will no longer be legally required as part of a new approach of beginning to “learn to live with the virus”.
After 16 months of huge State control over almost all aspects of our lives in attempt to repress the spread of Covid, the Government has now decided that following the vaccination programme the time is right to switch to an approach that emphasises personal responsibility and people having to make their own decisions on what mitigation measures, if any, they take.
The debate around mask-wearing indicates the challenges that lie ahead for society. While Ministers like Rishi Sunak and George Eustice have spoken about their desire to ditch their facemasks as soon as possible, experts such as Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director of primary care, has said she intends to carry on wearing one and advising others to do so.
In addition to personal judgment, the coming weeks and months will show whether the Government got it right in lifting measures at a time when Covid cases and now the numbers of hospitalisations are rising with concerning rapidity.
As cases of the Delta variant continue to spread rapidly – plunging schools into major disruption and increasing uncertainty for already hard-hit businesses who are now faced with both staff and customers being unable to turn up as expected at the last minute as a result of contacts with a positive test – it is clear that the idea that life will return to pre-Covid normality from July 20 is sadly unrealistic.
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