Sheffield’s director of public health welcomes ‘freedom day’ but will continue to wear a mask

Sheffield’s director of public health has welcomed the lifting of Covid restrictions but said a careful exit was necessary.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 1:02 pm

Greg Fell said earlier this week he would continue to wear a face mask despite the government announcing that it would lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions on July 19.

In a statement on the announcement, Mr Fell said: “I am supportive of Stage 4 of the roadmap. We do know, however, that this won’t mean the end of Covid. Learning to live with Covid cannot mean simply allowing infections to spread unchecked. The impact is clear – many suffering the symptoms of long Covid, inequalities exacerbated, pupils missing school, staff shortages in the NHS and social care as well as in businesses.

“Across the country, more people have been vaccinated which means more people are protected from getting seriously ill if they were to catch the virus. This is vital in overcoming Covid and seeing Sheffield get back to normal as much as is practically possible.

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Greg Fell.

Long Covid is still a concern, many people are suffering, and we are still learning about the effects of long Covid and the impact it has on people’s lives. You can still be poorly if you are double vaccinated and there are still plenty of people out there who are yet to be vaccinated. It’s why I want to stress the importance of keeping hygiene levels up. Let’s all continue to wash our hands on a regular basis, get a test if you have symptoms and self-isolate. This will stop the spread even more and is an added bonus to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are part of the answer but don’t eradicate Covid, we will learn to live with it as safely as possible. However, we know the measures we have taken have worked so far; masks have made a huge impact and there is overwhelming evidence to support this. We would have a lot less freedom if it wasn’t for the impact wearing a mask in closed spaces has had on transmission rates.

“I’m confident Sheffield will recover well, and we’ll see fewer hospital admissions. Covid rates may rise initially, but importantly a decrease in hospital admissions and as a result, fewer deaths, is a huge step in the right direction.

“A careful exit is necessary, not only for us as individuals, but for reassurances for businesses too, knowing they won’t be in a situation where they have to close again is vital for them.

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on future guidance to make sure we are as prepared as possible, protecting Sheffield residents and moving forward towards a better future.”

In a Sheffield Council situation video report earlier this week, Mr Fell said Covid hospitalisation was down in the city and case rates had gone “exponential” in the last couple of weeks but were slightly below the Yorkshire average.

He said cases were particularly among people aged between 15 and 35 and that there were some among older adults but not much in primary school aged children.