‘I’m deeply concerned’: workers on plans to end all Covid rules in England

水曜日に Boris Johnson announced plans to end all Covid regulations in England, including the requirement to self-isolate if you are infected with the virus.

Five people who work in public-facing jobs share their reaction to the news and what ending of all Covid restrictions will mean to them.

My particular concern is the suggestion that people will no longer have to isolate if testing positive for Covid, for which I haven’t seen any clear arguments or evidence given.

Having recently had Covid despite being triple vaccinated, it’s not a very pleasant experience. My main concerns are for the medically vulnerable – of which there are many – and the unvaccinated. We have quite a few patients who we have been unable to persuade to be vaccinated and they remain at risk.

I appreciate that we cannot expect people to isolate indefinitely with Covid, but think we should wait until the infection rates and warmer weather indicate that this would not be such a risky strategy.

It should also, in my opinion, be accompanied by advice to people to not circulate freely if Covid positive, and unwell, but to be considerate to others in the community – the same should apply if people have flu or significant respiratory infections. Marta, GP, ロンドン

I am deeply concerned about the prime minister’s decision. Most people of course are not touched too badly by Covid these days, if they have been boostered. But some still get very ill, or attract long Covid, and the long-term implications just do not seem to count, まったく, nor vulnerable people and how to protect them well.

I have to teach groups of students in poorly ventilated rooms, and it looks as if beginning the week after next I will just have to accept that there might be students in the classroom who know that they have Covid and yet have chosen to come to class, and cannot even be forced to wear a mask. I might be able to protect myself to some extent by wearing a mask, and of course everybody is free to wear one should they so desire.

I’ve been lucky enough to have students this term and last term who have accepted that I prefer them to wear masks, so all my students have done so in class. But I know for some colleagues this hasn’t necessarily been the case throughout. And messaging from government impacts how people behave, and so if the message is “it’s all over and fine”, I think that will have an impact. Jane*, university professor, south-west England

Regardless of the motivations for lifting restrictions, I think it’s good news for the live music industry. Those of us who work in industries that have been decimated by the restrictions of the last two years are eager to get back to our careers, passions and social lives.

Money is often quite tight in the music industry, and there’s a limited capacity to reschedule. One positive lateral flow test can derail a project and cost a lot of money. Restrictions have been a huge necessity throughout the pandemic, and I’d never downplay Covid’s severity, especially in the UK. But if these industries are throttled any more, things like such as music events and tours are going to become unviable for anyone without a huge production budget.

I don’t think society can be put indefinitely on hold. Just because I want society to resume, doesn’t mean I don’t care about vulnerable people. I have an optimistic view that most people will continue to be reasonable without the legal guidelines, and stay home if they’re unwell.

The kind of person who goes to a concert with symptoms is already ignoring the rules. But I think most people aren’t like that, and will do the responsible thing. ハリー, music producer, イーストロンドン

I have lots of high-risk colleagues who are understandably worried about the risk of coronavirus legitimately entering the workplace once restrictions are lifted, and we don’t have the luxury of being in a job where we can work from home.

Isolating also felt very legitimised when the government said it was illegal to leave your house when you had Covid. Whereas now, particularly for education, if the government has not mandated something, it will not happen. So I worry that staff will feel obliged to come in with coronavirus, even if they are sick.

Since December we’ve always had about 20% of our teaching staff off with Covid. We’re down to the bare bones. We can’t get supply teachers in either, so at the moment we’ll have two teaching assistants teaching a class, because there’s no teachers and no supply teachers. Ending restrictions will mean we will have more staff available, but we’ll also have to manage poorly children who shouldn’t be at school, but are because it is no longer essential to isolate. Sarah*, primary school teaching assistant, the Midlands

I work supporting children aged six to 17 who are the main carer for someone with a physical or mental health difficulty, a disabled person or someone who misuses drugs and alcohol. Many of these caring roles are with clinically vulnerable or immunocompromised people. Many of these young people have already been forced to isolate longer than others to keep their cared for ones safe.

We’ve continued to follow our own protocols around wearing masks, テスト, group sizes to mitigate risks even as restrictions have lifted. We felt the route the government was taking just wasn’t safe for our young people. The alternative for them is they cannot come out. The respite breaks [we offer] are really important in terms of their wellbeing and mental health and creating a social network.

I don’t quite know what we’re going to do going forward because we normally take them out to do things such as bowling or laser zone, but once the restrictions are lifted, they’re potentially mixing with people who have Covid and we can no longer reassure their families that we’re mitigating risks.

The onus on disabled and sick people to have to avoid society just underpins some already concerning attitudes towards disabled people. Ruth, youth carers service manager, southern England

*Names have been changed