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Vulnerable people ‘made to feel worthless’ as masks to become optional

Immunosuppressed and vulnerable people have said they are more likely to stay inside when masks become optional on July 19.


People wearing face masks in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

People wearing face masks in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

People wearing face masks in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Vulnerable people have spoken about feeling “worthless” after the Government announced plans to scrap all Covid-19 restrictions in England.

The plans, which include an end to social distancing and a move to make mask wearing optional, have meant that those with compromised immune systems now feel less able to use public transport and go to shops.

Rosemary Parker, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), told the PA news agency: “I had just started to feel confident to go out, now after the 19th (of July) I’m back to square one again.”

“Yet again the CEV (clinically extremely vulnerable) are made to feel irrelevant to society… I don’t think we fit into the Government’s plans to boost the economy and are considered as collateral damage,” Ms Parker, 59, added.

“I lost my spleen due to pancreatic cancer and also have COPD. It’s not my fault I became ill and now have been made to feel worthless again.”

Ms Parker, from Southport, argued the plan to relax social distancing and mask wearing is “reckless” while people with weakened immune systems are still unsure how effective the Covid-19 vaccines will be for them.

She said: “We shielded for over a year, did everything that was asked of us and have now been pushed to the bottom of the pile again.

“I’ve had both (vaccines), however we are yet to confirm their efficacy to us… we are expected to go out there and play Russian roulette not knowing if we are protected or not.


(Rosemary Parker)

(Rosemary Parker)

(Rosemary Parker)

“I’m not asking for full lockdowns or trying to restrict anyone’s freedom, however given the rise in the Delta variant it seems foolhardy and reckless to rush ahead.”

The Government has stated that limits on social contact and the “one metre plus” rule on distancing are set to end on July 19, while nightclubs will be permitted to reopen.

People will no longer be instructed to work from home and the legal requirement to wear masks will end, though their use will be advised in “enclosed and crowded places”.

Journalist Rachel Charlton-Dailey, 32, said she worries that relaxing restrictions could lead to people becoming “blase” about the pandemic.

She told PA: “The loosening of restrictions scares me, I can see how blase people are becoming about it already and I’m worried they’ll basically act like it’s over now.”

“Disabled people have been the most affected by this and now we’re going to suffer again as we’ll feel even more unsafe,” she said.

“I definitely will be spending less time in public even though I’d just started to feel good about going out again.”

Ms Charlton-Dailey, from South Tyneside, has an autoimmune disease but cannot fully shield because she must do the food shopping for her family.

“I’ll definitely be more cautious and try and go at quieter times… I might even have to stop going,” she said.

“I don’t think the Government have thought about this properly.”

Blood Cancer UK chief executive Gemma Peters warned that the reduction of preventative measures will mean “more freedoms are taken away” from people with compromised immune systems.

“The fact is that the less people wear masks and keep their distance from others, the less safe some people with blood cancer will feel to be out in public,” she said.

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