More than 60pc of readers against June 21 'Freedom Day' go ahead
- Credit: PA
As the country remains in limbo as to whether the government will delay the end of coronavirus restrictions in the UK, more than 75pc say they would be happy with some measures remaining in place.
It comes following the results of an online survey put together by this paper, which saw almost 500 people respond.
We asked readers if they wanted lockdown to end on the government’s proposed date of June 21 – dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.
Meanwhile, ministers are considering a delay in order to give people more time to get vaccinated against the virus and also following concerns over rising numbers of the Delta variant.
The variant, which was first identified in India, is now the dominant variant in the UK and accounts for 90pc of cases.
The Office for National Statistics has also estimated that coronavirus infections are continuing to rise in England, with one in 560 people testing positive.
Should 'Freedom Day' go ahead?
Following these concerns, less than half of the people who took part in our survey said they were ready to see all lockdown restrictions lifted by June 21.
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A total of 60.8pc responded saying they did not want all restrictions lifted, while 77.1pc conceded that they would be happy for some measures to remain in place.
Only 40.2pc said they would feel safe if it went ahead on June 21.
The main conditions that participants said they would like to see kept in place were the traffic light system for international travel (78.7pc), then mask-wearing (66.2pc), followed very closely by social distancing (63.2pc).
Out of the 497 people who took part, 59.4pc said they would like table service to remain in pubs and restaurants, while 33.6pc and 32.8pc said the rule of six should stay in place along with a limit of 30 people at weddings, wakes, and other commemorative events, respectively.
In fact, more people said they would not feel safe attending a wedding or event with more than 30 people (52.1pc). And while this would be devastating for many individuals and groups who would be directly affected by a delay to the restrictions being abolished, less than a third of people said they were considering making plans.
What plans are people making?
Of all the plans reportedly being made, most included holidays, both in the UK and abroad. A number of weddings are also due to take place, as well as school events such as proms and sports days. Many have also bought tickets to festivals, while others have said they will be delaying all plans either due to the uncertainty or lack of funds to book anything.
A total of 69.8pc of readers reported having no plans which would be affected should there be any delays to the roadmap.
If the government fails to implement its plan to go ahead with Freedom Day, more than 20pc of readers openly admitted they would not stick to the restrictions (20.7pc), with a further 28.4pc stating categorically they do not want to see any delays.
But if there was a delay, how long would be long enough?
Just 2.8pc said a week, while 11.7pc of readers said two weeks would be adequate. The vast majority opted for plans to be delayed by a month (32.6pc) while the rest (24.5pc) agreed that June 21 should be delayed by more than a month.
So, what's next?
It currently remains the government's goal to end all forms of lockdown on June 21, which means removing the existing legal limits on social contact.
As long as hospitalisations remain low and the number of deaths even lower, decision-makers may see it as sensible to bring all curbs on normal life to an end.
Four out of every five adults in the area - or 80.3pc of the population - have now had at least one coronavirus jab and a number of walk-in Covid vaccination clinics are being held in a bid to protect as many people as possible in the county.
What did our readers have to say?
“I feel the whole thing has been massively exaggerated and the sooner we get back to normal the better. Not lifting restrictions makes a mockery of the vaccination campaign.”
“It’s all about common sense and if the public can’t do this then we need to return to a nanny state.”
“The delay in Freedom Day should be until all school’s break-up for the summer holidays, and all adults over 18 receive at least their first Covid vaccination.”
“Keeping some restrictions in place will remind people that we are still not over the pandemic.”
“We have unlocked with greater infection numbers than when we locked down more than once now. With the Delta variant surging it makes sense to give a little more time for the situation to be assessed.”
“Time for the NHS to focus again on the day job of cancer treatments and all other emergencies, which far outweigh Covid cases. Furlough needs to stop and life resume, living with Covid in the same way we do with seasonal flu.”
“I think certain restrictions will need to be in place until more vaccinations are done and more data collected on the new variant and how or if it is affecting hospital numbers and deaths.”
“The country is clearly at the start of a third wave which was totally avoidable. It is a disgrace that nothing has been learned from past mistakes and a slap in the face to the superb efforts of the NHS and GP’s vaccination efforts.”
“A majority of people have now had the vaccine so there is no need to keep restrictions.”
“The damage from delays in other NHS treatments is now worse than the small increase in severe Covid from lifting restrictions.”
“I’m tired of people being selfish about wanting restrictions lifted just so they can go on holiday. We all need to band together to ensure the safety of everyone until we can reach full herd immunity.”
“If I am vaccinated, I don’t see why I should be punished because people are not having the vaccine.”
“We have been here before. Play it safe and let’s get rid of this for good. We need to learn from previous mistakes.”