The results of my straw poll are in. Just three in ten people want all restrictions lifted next Monday.
Sajid Javid and Boris Johnson yesterday announced they are sticking to their plan to remove almost all restrictions on 19 July. But fewer than one-third of the 395 respondents think that all restrictions should end next Monday.
From what I have learnt in the past week, wearing of face masks is the main concern people have about the easing of restrictions.
We learnt from Javid yesterday that the easing of almost all restrictions is not “irreversible” as Johnson had previously claimed: “If [the] risk matrix changes, for example with variants of concern, we will not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”
Although legal restrictions are ending, “clear and cautious guidance will remain in place”. That includes an expectation that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded areas and public transport. But there are media reports this morning that bus and train companies will not make mask wearing mandatory. Neither will they be mandatory in shops. Instead of mask wearing being the norm, I fear it will quickly become a rarity.
Face masks have only a limited effectiveness against Covid-19. They are more effective at protecting others than the mask wearer. But that is no reason to stop wearing them. If nothing else, they give people a more confidence when in enclosed spaces and on public transport. Face masks will remain mandatory, except for those who are exempt, in GPs surgeries and hospitals across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Modelling by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that unless the public took a cautious approach to reopening, infection rates could rise. Up to 4,800 people a day could be admitted to hospital with up to 200 deaths a day.
We must remember that does not guarantee protection from Covid-19. The vaccines are hugely effective in reducing the severity of infection and in reducing hospitalisations. But people can still catch Covid-19 and pass it onwards even if they are asymptomatic.
My straw poll suggests that people in Ludlow are not happy with the big bang approach to lifting restrictions favoured by Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid. They want a more cautious approach.
We are all fed up with restrictions. We all want normal life. But not at the expense of our health and the health of others.
Better news is that there is further evidence that the growth in infection rates is slowing in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, though that is not the case across the nation.