Mixed reaction over 'Plan B' calls for Government to reintroduce some Covid restrictions

Opinions appear to be split over calls for the Government to introduce its Winter Covid ‘Plan B’ measures.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:55 pm

The move would see masks once again become mandatory in certain public settings, Covid passports introduced for social activities and a return to a work from home directive

In recent days the Government has come under increasing pressure to reinstate some Covid restrictions as case rates have soared to more than 40,000 a day, including 52,009 cases on Thursday, October 21, the highest in three months following restrictions coming to an end in England.

With one of the highest case rates in Europe, The British Medical Association (BMA) accused the government of being "wilfully negligent" for not reimposing rules such as mandatory face masks and across the weekend the Labour Party called for the implementation of plan B.

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Retired miner Joseph Spurr, 75, has continued to wear his mask since restrictions ended.

It’s a sentiment shared by retired couple Norman and Linda Mcdonald.

Former Vaux Brewery worker Norman, 75, said: “These measures should have been reinstated weeks ago. For a long time we were bragging about having some of the best case and vaccination rates in Europe but now we have one of the worst.

“I’ve had my booster jab and we will continue to do what we think is safe and not wait to be told by the Government.

“Figures on the news show cases are just going up. Throughout this pandemic the Government have been reactionary when it is too late rather than trying to be proactive.”

Shay Allison and Ellie Clark, both 17, believe more young people would start to wear masks again if it was mandatory rather than advisory.

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Some residents believe the mask wearing mandate should never have been removed in the first place and are concerned failing to take measures now will result in more severe restrictions later in the winter and potentially over the festive period.

Retired miner Joseph Spurr, 75, said: “I’ve never stopped wearing mine. The Government have been too slow to react throughout the pandemic and I’m concerned without action now, we will end up in a more serious situation over Christmas.

"Myself and my wife like to go out for a meal twice a week, but with the way the numbers are going we are becoming more wary of doing so.”

Dennis Thompson, 73, feels the Government "can't keep putting restrictions on people's lives".

Retired HGV driver Wilfred Bunting, 78, added: “I’ve just been to the Post Office to get my paper and I’d say 70 per cent of people inside were not wearing masks. I hate wearing masks but I’m prepared to put up with it to protect myself and other people.

"It’s far better for the Government to take a cautious approach now than having to take harsher action in the run up to Christmas. I’m hoping it’s going to happen.

"I’m not too keen on the vaccine passports as I think having to download it onto an app may be difficult for some older people who may not know the technological side of how to do it.”

Those urging the Government to take action were not just confined to older generations with a number of young people also in support of stricter measures, admitting they’d be more likely to follow them if they were mandatory rather than advisory.

Gateshead College student Shay Allison, 17, said: “I don’t wear a mask at the moment but if the Government made it a rule then I would start wearing it again. I’ve had Covid before and I wasn’t too bad but I do worry about passing it on to older people like my granddad.

"I think the Covid passport is a good idea. I’ve had my jab but I do think it will encourage other young people to get their vaccination.”

Girlfriend Ellie Clark, also 17, added: “I know a lot of young people would be against restrictions being brought in but not everyone thinks like that. I have asthma and so I would prefer to wear a visor rather than a mask.”

With the highest Covid prevalence rates currently in school age children, teacher James Daley, 46, believes the Government needs to act “sooner rather than later” to bring case rates under control.

He added: “I don’t think mask wearing in public areas should ever have been removed. We are currently seeing a large increase in cases in schools and a massive disruption to education.

"For a lot of people, when you give them too much leniency, they will always take the path of less resistance.”

However several people who spoke to the Echo also believed it would be wrong to reintroduce restrictions and felt decisions should be left to personal choice.

Former blacksmith Dennis Thompson, 73, said: “I just think Covid is now something we have to learn to live with and we can’t keep putting restrictions on people’s lives.

"It’s up to people to decide what they feel comfortable with and whether they wish to wear a mask.”

A number of residents also believe that even if restrictions were introduced, it’s unlikely people would adhere to them.

Stuart Liddle, 64, added: “I’ve had my three jabs and I don’t wear a mask in public areas. I don’t think the measures they are talking about bringing in would make much of a difference anyway.

"I think a lot of people would ignore them as they are sick of having restrictions put on their lives.”

Janet Davidson, 59, who has worked in Asda throughout the pandemic said: “I think we have gone past the point of imposing restrictions and it needs to be left to individual choice. A lot of people don’t really trust what the Government says anymore.”

Daughter Karen Taylor, 36, added: “I worked as a carer at the start of the pandemic and for three months I had to work without PPE. I think people have lost trust in the Government after all the things that have happened in the last year and so I’m not sure how many people would follow the restrictions even if they were brought in.”

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