“I feel sorry for the vulnerable”: Mask rule changes spark concern in Lewes

Concerns have been raised about the plan to drop mask-wearing rules from Monday.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 3:48 pm
Masks will no longer be mandatory from Monday. Photo: Pixabay
Masks will no longer be mandatory from Monday. Photo: Pixabay

From July 19, most of the remaining covid restrictions are due to be lifted – including the legal requirement to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.

While wearing masks will no longer be compulsory, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he ‘expects’ masks to be worn in crowded places, such as on a busy tube train.

Councillor James MacCleary, leader of Lewes District Council, said the Government was ‘shirking responsibility’ by making mask-wearing a personal choice for individuals.

He said: “Although there is a case for easing restrictions generally, as hospitalisations remain very low and obviously the NHS vaccination rollout continues to be a great success, I just don’t accept at all the case for removing the mandatory requirements for face coverings on public transport and in shops.

“There’s no economic case for doing that, it doesn’t improve anybody’s welfare.

“What it does do is put at-risk people who are currently shielding at home, who have perhaps very serious health conditions, these people are going to feel now that they can’t make a trip to the shops or use public transport.”

Mr MacCleary said he was speaking from a personal perspective, as it was not up to the council to issue health advice to people or to contradict the Government.

“In my own position, I think that making them optional and putting the onus on individuals is shirking responsibility from the government,” he said.

“I think that it will lead to much higher infection rates which could lead to significant increases in serious complications relating to covid.”

Some Sussex Express readers have raised concerns about the lifting of restrictions on Monday.

Commenting online, Sian Herridge said it was ‘irresponsible’ and that the Government should wait a bit longer, adding: “I feel sorry for the vulnerable and people with health issues.”

Caroline Sains said: “I’d leave it for another month at least, so then more people would have been vaccinated.

“Still wear masks on public transport and shops, etc.”

Reader Kelvin Lamport said he was ‘very happy’ restrictions were being lifted, but added: “I will still be taking precautions, like wearing a mask and distancing while standing in line at checkouts ... even though I’ve had both shots.”