July 19 'Freedom Day': “It’s better to be safe rather than sorry" - Sheffield commuters debate over wearing masks on public transport

The Prime Minister announced yesterday (July 5) that the requirement to wear face masks will no longer be mandatory after July 19, but should they be worn on public transport? – this is what people in Sheffield think.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 5:06 pm

In a televised briefing yesterday, the Prime Minister set out what restrictions will no longer be in place after July 19 in what is being called ‘freedom day’.

The easing of restrictions on July 19 is dependent on four tests being met according to the four-step roadmap out of lockdown - this will be confirmed on July 12 after a review of the latest data.

The key announcement from the Government briefing was that facemasks will no longer be mandatory in public settings under step four of the Government's road map, when all remaining restrictions are set to be lifted, and that wearing a mask from this point onwards will become "a personal choice”.

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Pictured is Zoe Cooper.

Mr Johnson said the Government would end the "legal obligation to wear a face covering", but said: "Guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so - especially when cases are rising and where you come into contact with people you don't usually meet in enclosed spaces, such as obviously crowded public transport."

Asked where and when he would continue to wear a mask, the PM said: "It will depend on the circumstances. Clearly, there's a big difference between travelling on a crowded Tube train and sitting late at night in a virtually empty carriage on the main railway line.

"We want people to exercise their personal responsibility but remember the value of face coverings both in protecting themselves and others."

We’ve spoken with people in Sheffield to gather their thoughts about wearing masks on public transport.

Pictured is Maciej Cichosz.

Mellie Harvey said that she would still be wearing a mask on public transport, saying: “It’s better to be safe rather than sorry ... people must be aware that even if you are fully vaccinated, you can still get the virus, so we have to be careful.”

Olivia Smith is also prepared to wear a mask, saying: “It helps slow down transmission, and honestly, what is so difficult about wearing a mask?”

Isac Burr, aged 21, said: “I think at the moment, getting rid of them is a bit silly. I understand that hospitalisations are low, but cases are going up, the vaccine is getting there, so scrapping face masks before everyone is fully vaccinated, I just don’t get it.

“At this point, I’m intending to wear a mask even after July 19.”

Pictured is Isac Burr.

One person said: “I think I would follow Chris Whitty's advice so I would wear them on the train and in crowded public spaces and I would also wear one if someone else wanted me to. I think his advice is really good.”

Maciej Cichosz said: “I’m not entirely sure it’s the right solution. It might be too soon and could spread the virus even more. I know there are more people vaccinated than ever, and that’s good and limits the risk, but I’m not sure if it will cause more damage than good. We should probably wait one or two more months instead of doing it now.”

Zoe Cooper, aged 54, said: “I’ll still be wearing mine on public transport and in busy areas.”

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