- Title: England's 'freedom day' more like 'anxiety day' for the most vulnerable
- Date: 14th July 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - JULY 2020) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET VARIOUS OF SIGNS BANNING ENTRY TO THOSE NOT WEARING FACE COVERINGS MAN BOARDING BUS LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - JULY 2020) (REUTERS) (MUTE) VARIOUS TIME-LAPSES OF PEOPLE WALKING ON STREET
- Embargoed: 28th July 2021 17:31
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus concerns government infections lockdown unlocking
- Location: LONDON AND SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON AND SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA003ELYB1VR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:As England's so-called "freedom day" draws near, excitement at the prospect of COVID-19 restrictions being ended is being tempered by concern about the consequences for case numbers and downright fear among the clinically vulnerable.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday (July 12) that England would move to Step 4 - the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown which will end legal COVID-19 restrictions - on July 19.
That means that the last remaining businesses that are still closed under COVID-19 restrictions - such as nightclubs - can finally reopen.
Having been shut since March 2020, Eugene Wild, co-founder of The Cause club in north London, is throwing all his energies into re-opening at the stroke of midnight on the 19th but is anxious that it might not last.
Wild said he would be in favour of people getting tested before going clubbing, but was afraid that the industry might get shut down again - something he fears it would not survive.
In the Netherlands, nightclubs were open just for two weeks before they were closed again, while Israel has also had to reimpose some restrictions in the face of more cases.
Johnson has said he is reconciled to more deaths from COVID, but that a wave of cases was always expected when restrictions were eased and Britain's vaccine rollout has weakened the link between cases and serious illness.
For many of the 3.8 million people in the UK considered clinically extremely vulnerable though freedom day will be quite the opposite.
Luke Peters, an author and double lung transplantee with cystic fibrosis, said he felt as though "those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group have been largely forgotten about."
Peters began writing a memoir chronicling his life when he thought he might not survive his double lung transplant, which has left him having to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of his life.
While many relish the prospect of the so-called "freedom day," Peters said the prospect is more like "anxiety day" for people like him.
Having regained his physical health, Peters fears the lack of provisions for people like him means that he will likely have to stop enjoying any of the life he was hoping to once again enjoy with his family.
Critics say that the strategy will not only cause deaths but also debilitating long COVID in many while increasing risks to the clinically vulnerable.
However, some believe that public anxiety about restrictions ending might be the thing that protects the country from the worst-case scenarios in the next wave.
(Production: Natalie Thomas)
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