RECAP: How Sunderland reacted to 'Freedom Day' and details of latest Downing Street press conference
Today, Monday, July 19, marks England’s ‘Freedom Day’ as further Covid restrictions across the country are lifted after more than a year.
After months of pandemic-related constraints, the country has finally reached the last step in the Government’s unlocking road map and we were there to bring you the latest from our city centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for caution as the country unlocks and led a press conference virtually this evening as he self-isolates following contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has Covid-19.
Today’s changes mean face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport, limits on gatherings have gone, the work from home guidance no longer applies and social distancing rules ended at one minute past midnight.
Nightclubs, theatres and restaurants can fully reopen, while pubs are no longer restricted to table service only.
Scroll down for a look at how the day unfolded:
Live updates on Freedom day in Sunderland, July 19
Last updated: Monday, 19 July, 2021, 13:28
- Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted across England
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged caution as lockdown comes to an end
- More than 480 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Sunderland yesterday
What do people in Sunderland think of the restrictions being eased?
Our Echo reporter Ryan is out and about in Sunderland today along with photographer Stu to get the city’s reaction to restrictions being lifted.
“Restrictions shouldn’t be lifted really."
Sisters June Keen, 67 and Hilda Pearson, 71 from Hendon have their say on Freedom Day.
June said: “restrictions shouldn’t be lifted really, there is still a lot of people with different conditions. Hospitals are inundated again and they should have closed the airports.”
“I’m exempt but when I’m on the bus I still wear one."
Our reporter Ryan is out in Sunderland capturing the city’s reaction as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Hilda Pearson, 71 said: “I’m exempt but when I’m on the bus I still wear one. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone a pint but I think that pubs were opened too early as well.”
“It’s definitely too early"
Husband and wife Julie, 56 and Raymond Green, 63 think the restrictions have been lifted a little too early.
Raymond said: “there’s around 60,000 cases a day at the moment and they have decided to lift restrictions, it is definitely too early.”
Julie added: “We are still wearing our masks and still being cautious despite things being lifted. There is actually loads of people being sensible and wearing masks today.”
“We need to start getting things open in this country to get money flowing again"
Veteran Paul Hampton, 41 from New Herrington said: “I think it is too early with all the new variants rising but at the same time, we need to start getting things open in this country to get money flowing again.
“You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t really.”
“It is stupid to think that it won’t stop spreading."
Our reporter Ryan has been out in Sunderland to find out what people think of Freedom Day.
Student Will Clasper, 16 from Washington: “It’s too early, especially with the easing of wearing masks and the opening of things like nightclubs. It is stupid to think that it won’t stop spreading.”
What do experts say about masks?
Some experts are urging people to continue to wear masks in busy public spaces.
Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, urged people to continue with preventative measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
He said: “My recommendation is simply wear your mask, don’t get too close to people, watch out in confined spaces and remember this virus hasn’t gone away.”
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises ministers, said it is important that people remain cautious after so-called Freedom Day.
He also said that people should continue to minimise contact with others and wear a mask when mixing with people indoors.
Many people in Sunderland seem to still be wearing masks around city centre
Our photographer Stu has captured people in Sunderland on Freedom Day.
Many of which seem to be wearing masks as they wander around the city centre.
Almost all local authority areas in north-east England report their highest ever rate of new Covid-19 cases
Around one in six areas in England are now reporting their highest rate of new Covid-19 cases since comparable records began last summer, when mass testing was first introduced in the UK, latest figures show.
The list includes almost all local authority areas in north-east England.
Data also shows that every local area in England is now recording coronavirus rates above the symbolic level of 100 cases per 100,000 people – the first time this has happened since early January, at the peak of the second wave.
“It’s down to people’s personal responsibility and their own opinion now"
Chris Whalen, 38 who is self-employed said: “I work in hospitality a little bit and I don’t think loads is going to particularly change because people will probably still have some regulations and rules for a while with everything that’s going on.
“It’s down to people’s personal responsibility and their own opinion now whether they want to wear a mask