Birds' Eye View: The Free, Masketeers, and the end of all for one and one for all

Wear a mask and protect others

By not wearing a mask when you go shopping you are putting lives at risk. - Credit: PA

I caught a few minutes of PMQs last week with our Prime Minister isolating in his country retreat, looking sweaty and flustered as he dodged questions virtually from the opposition leader Keir Starmer.

Starmer accused Johnson of creating “a summer of chaos” and that the Prime Minister had “failed to see the irony of the fact that he spent Freedom Day locked in isolation”.

Meanwhile, outside Parliament, the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group had created an installation of 650 photographs of people who had died from the virus: people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Their families met 20 MPs and escorted them around the display, showing them pictures of their loved ones and sharing stories. Only one Conservative MP bothered to turn up. Speaks volumes, don’t you think?

Fast forward a few days and our Health Secretary Savid Javid was forced to apologise after tweeting “get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus".

Javid’s comments just highlight how out of touch the government is with the nation; accusing people who are following the rules, doing their best to protect their families as “cowering” from the virus is unbelievable.

The government’s decision to relax restrictions has perhaps been the most divisive and dangerous of moves they had made since the start of the pandemic.

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Mask wearing has proved to be a contentious issue for me. We all know that wearing a mask stops the spread of the virus and I really struggle with friends who are no longer wearing masks and have selfishly decided not to get vaccinated too, opting to “wait and see” how the rest of us get on with the vaccine.

What does this say about how they feel about our friendship? Perhaps, I am not as important to them as I thought I was. If you refuse to wear a mask, at least get vaccinated.

The government has decided to let the virus run through the population, so it’s up to us to pull together to protect our communities.

Gogglebox star Tom Malone asked his 72,000 Twitter followers if they feel like a criminal when they go into shops without a mask? Frankly, you are putting the lives of people, particularly the clinically vulnerable, at risk and it leaves me speechless that people can’t bear to put on a mask for a few minutes. It’s not much to ask is it?

If, like me, you had to endure the pain of seeing a loved one trying to talk to you over FaceTime with a c-pap mask over their face trying to keep them alive, you might think twice about putting that on when you head out to the shops.

I know more people now with the virus than I have done throughout the last 18 months. A number of my friends have caught the virus from their children who have brought it home from school, or from their workplace, some picked it up after they attended the Euros final.

I struggled watching all those people attending the football at Wembley. It seems crazy to think thousands of people were allowed to attend the games without masks or any social distancing, yet families are still not allowed to visit loved ones in hospital. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Are you continuing to wear a facemask when shopping?

Are you continuing to wear a facemask when shopping? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

And of course, there is the real threat of long Covid. Research published last month estimated that two million people have long Covid, and if more and more people are being exposed to the virus, that number will surely only increase.

How on earth will our health service cope and what impact will that many people, and possibly more, being off sick have on industry?

Unsurprisingly, the total number of people who have been admitted to hospital with the Delta variant has doubled in the space of two weeks.

This time last year, I foolishly thought the virus would be just a distant bad memory, but this is far from the reality. It dominates 60 per cent of my conversations with friends, I feel like I am less likely to venture out to restaurants and pubs at the moment as I am fearful of getting pinged or getting the virus.

Lots of people I know feel the same, so surely Freedom Day, which was supposed to give businesses a much-needed boost, has had the opposite effect.

Pubs and restaurants in the city are having to close because so many staff are isolating, and the ones that have managed to stay open say they have seen business slow down in the last week. One publican I spoke to said that he can only see things getting worse, not better, and another one, who had to close for 10 days after one of his staff tested positive for Covid said “he would eat his hat” if his pub managed to stay open for a week once they reopened.

But despite all of these challenges, our city’s hospitality businesses, when they can open, are doing more than our government has done to protect its population by not ditching masks and ensuring staff continue to wear them when required to make their customers feel safe. And I for one, am thankful to them for that.

It fills me with anger that our Prime Minister doesn’t feel the connection with the people that he serves like our local businesses do, but then self-isolating in his country retreat no doubt helps to maintain the physical and psychological distance from the madding crowds.