Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health is echoing calls from health charities to keep wearing masks after the Plan B COVID-19 restrictions cease to apply on Thursday.
She said: “While COVID case numbers are falling they remain high, and masks remain the best way to prevent the spread.
“People around us with a range of invisible conditions or circumstances that mean their immune systems are weakened are still vulnerable to the serious, and potentially fatal, effects of COVID-19.
“Mask wearing is about protecting other people and research has shown them to be the best, non-medical way to do that.
“If we continue wearing them on public transport and in crowded places, it reduces the serious risk that we will accidentally pass it on to someone for whom the consequences could be very serious.
“Maintaining the two-metre distancing also helps, as well as thorough handwashing.”
The changes mean that from Thursday people in England will no longer be required to wear masks on public transport and in shops or use vaccine certificates. In Wales Northern Ireland and Scotland, people will still be required to wear masks in shops and other indoor public places.
Some retail chains and transport companies are also asking people to continue wearing masks. Also, the UK Health Security Agency’s infection prevention control (IPC) guidance remains in place and patients will be asked to wear a face covering and practice good hygiene when visiting NHS facilities such as a GP practices, hospitals, dentists, walk-in or urgent treatment centres.
Although the Government has stopped asking people to work from home, Sefton Council is asking employees to continue working from home where they can. Risk assessments and safety measures are in place for those Council employees who do need to be in the workplace.
Efforts and sacrifices
Mr Jones continued: “People across Sefton have made great efforts and sacrifices and I know that after the previous, so-called Freedom Day last July, many continued to wear masks to protect those around them including their loved ones and friends.
“I am sure they will want to do so again.
“However, I recognise all of us have our own reasons for wearing or not wearing masks and I would ask everyone to respect those decisions.”
Mrs Jones also encouraged anyone still not vaccinated to book a jab now to avoid a serious case of COVID that could result in a stay in hospital. Most people being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 have either not had their booster or have not had the full course of the vaccine.
She said: “We are not fully vaccinated unless we have had two jabs and a booster, even if we have recently had COVID-19.
“Vaccination doesn’t mean we can’t catch the virus or be re-infected but if we do, we have stronger immunity and will be far less likely to be seriously ill.”
Everyone aged 12 and over can now book a vaccination by calling 119 or visiting the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
People can also find out more about local vaccination sites in Sefton by visiting: www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk or www.southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk.