The 19th July was heavily touted as "freedom day" by the UK government. The day when The Prime Minister's gamble on trusting the public’s judgment and the protection offered by vaccines came into effect as he scrapped mandatory mask-wearing and lifted social distancing requirements. Well, after a couple of weeks of "freedom" I'm not at all impressed.
And here's why.
Post "freedom day" England in a strange place where everyone is applying whatever social distancing and mask wearing rules take their fancy.
The legal requirement to wear face coverings has been lifted, and replaced with a suggestion people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded places”.
And guess what?
Around half of the people I've seen out and about (including fellow travellers on a bus today) are no longer wearing masks or exercising any form of social distancing. Although ironically, a couple of non-mask wearing passengers who got off the bus at the same stop as me this morning stopped to don masks before entering the clinic I was visiting for a diabetic retinopathy check! Retail outlets seem to have eschewed any responsibility for the safety of their patrons and pubs, clubs and restaurants simply want to resume raking in profits as if the pandemic was over. Meanwhile, as I write this blog, the number of deaths has risen by 9.2% in the last 7 days and the number of hospital admissions has risen by 18.9%. Now those figures on their own seem to be telling a layman like me that I ought still to be wearing a mask, washing my hands and self distancing in public spaces. Not so much to protect myself (I'm double vaccinated and of sturdy peasant stock) but to protect others from any infection that I might inadvertently be carrying around with me. People are still dying. and even one death is too many, especially if is the result of one selfish individual on a bus who couldn't be bothered to wear a mask and then coughed their infected spittle in a mist of droplets over all of the other passengers. The maelstrom of chaos and confusion that has resulted from the cowardly lack of direction from government has made my life as a person living with dementia much more difficult. I haven't got a clue what to do when I'm out. I'm constantly asking myself "should I? or shouldn't I?" No two places have the same (if any) rules and I am more anxious and uncomfortable now than I ever was during the days of full lockdown. There is friction between the masked and the unmasked. A sense of pent-up emotion that I feel most acutely pervades the air wherever people gather in public spaces. Why couldn't we simply have delayed "freedom day" just a couple more months until the whole population (except for the conspiracy nuts) was vaccinated?