It’s good that we’re free – but shouldn’t we cover up in crowded places yet?

BORIS JOHNSON is making a big call to remove legal restrictions when Covid infection rates rise, and they are rising faster here in the Northeast than almost anywhere in the country.

No other country makes this seemingly contradictory choice, but almost no other country has experienced such a successful vaccination campaign.

Two arguments put forward by the Prime Minister yesterday are echoed: we must make the most of the natural firebreak offered by the school holidays, and if we do not unlock in the middle of summer, we cannot expect to unlock in the fall. and the winter when the virus, like the flu, will be at its strongest.

But face masks are going to be the battleground. It is clear that scientists believe that face masks have a role to play in crowds, especially on public transport. Professor Chris Whitty said yesterday that he would continue to wear his mask out of “common courtesy”, but not everyone is as courteous as he is. There is here a real risk of confrontation between masked and unmasked, and there is also a possibility that the most vulnerable will continue to be prisoners in their homes not wishing to come face to face, say on the bus, with a unmasked person.

This is why 71% of people still prefer mandatory masks.

Masks are also a physical reminder that we are simply living with Covid. We didn’t beat him; we still have to take care of ourselves and others.

If it is to remove the legal requirement, the government needs a high-impact campaign to make mask non-wearing socially unacceptable, at least until infection rates stop rising.