Freedom Day had been meant to herald the return to normal life in England.
Yet concerns over the rising number of delta-variant cases, the risk of the beta-variant and the so-called ‘pingdemic’ have left many people feeling considerably underwhelmed – and even worried – about the removal of nearly all Covid restrictions after July 19.
Readers of the Front Page newsletter, published daily by the Telegraph, shared how they felt life would change after ‘Freedom Day’ and what they have been most looking forward to returning.
Read on for the best messages from readers:
‘Boost to the economy’
"I firmly believe that lifting restrictions will be a further boost to the economy. Not only will certain businesses be allowed to operate again or at full capacity again, but those of us who loathe masks will now cast them aside and visit shops and other venues we have been putting off for months."
Paul Owen, Worcestershire
‘Nothing much will change’
"Nothing much will change. We will wear face masks where we believe it necessary. We would like to meet our family more often. We are unlikely to travel abroad this year, but hope to go in the New Year."
Alan Owens, 71, Shrewsbury
‘Learn to cope’
"I am approaching 92, and am lucky enough to be in reasonably good health for that age. I have had my double jab, have been among those "confined to barracks" brigade for the period of lockdown. The time has come for us to learn to cope with the pandemic and live with it, but to continue to take sensible precautions such as the wearing of masks."
Elizabeth Swan, 91
"We moved back to the UK from the Middle East last summer and it’s been a tough few months of trying to settle into a routine, find work and give our three-year-old daughter a sense of normality. We would love for things to go back to the way they were but we know that there is still a need for personal responsibility. We will continue to wear masks in busy places like on public transport, avoid overly crowded events, take regular lateral flow tests and be cautious of travel till at least the end of the year when most should have had both vaccines and boosters."
Diana Bell-Heather, 33
‘Slowly opening up again’
"Not intending to do very much differently. Very slowly opening up again and seeing friends and relatives and going places, since being one of the immunosuppressed members of the public. No holidays this year again. Hopefully so next year. A little wary of going to closed spaces. In many ways my iPad has been a life saver!"
Chris Pepper, 79, Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire
‘I do not want to live in a Stasi Britain’
"I have had Covid, and find it ridiculous that we are even considering continuing wearing masks and having restrictions to our freedoms threatened in perpetuity. If people feel vulnerable then they can wear a mask and keep out of the populations way. The lives of the entire youth and the future of this country can not be blighted by the irrational fears of a small minority of the elderly. I do not want to live in a Stasi Britain for ever more. "
Mark Elliott, 64
"I intend to continue to mask up and socially distance until the scientific consensus says otherwise. Eternally thankful for scientists who have worked so hard to produce vaccines which make Covid-19 an almost vaccine curable disease and for their continued efforts in finding treatments, tracking variants and fighting misinformation."
Rachel Golding, 31, Cheshire
‘Not safe for the vulnerable’
"Having shielded and followed the science since March 2020, we know case numbers are not at the point of reopening society without risking vaccine-adapted variants. We just had our first dinner out in 16 months — wonderful! Won’t be doing that again until case numbers drop again. Not safe for the vulnerable when so many think face masks are a joke."
Kathy Hall, 57, Osbaston, Leicestershire
‘Sing in church’
"What I look forward to most is being able to sing in church once again and see my fellow worshippers’ faces."
Brian Llewellyn, 74, East Sussex
‘Something special about the "real thing"’
"I have just chaired a council zoom meeting and great as it was, there is something special about the "real thing". Similarly, I can attend a full church, we can all sing again with the choir and worship. Marvellous!"
Chris Burke, 68, Lincoln
‘Social interaction is rewarding and fun’
"I have been lucky, continuing to paint at work during lockdown. But it’s a pleasure to welcome visitors. Social interaction is rewarding and fun."
Andy Hawkins, 71, Saltburn-by-the-sea, North Yorkshire
‘I want my life back’
"I have ceased mask-wearing, forgotten social distancing and will mix freely in any venue. I want my life back, including sitting at the pub bar."
Brian Foulkes, 73, Gorleston, Norfolk
‘Courage to face the future’
"In this year of our 50th wedding anniversary we are going to revitalise our lives with visits to our five children and seven grandchildren, who give us so much joy. We want to give them courage to face the future, whatever it may hold in store for us."
Timothy & Andrea Tindal-Robertson, 81 & 79, Exeter
‘Can’t wait to see live shows’
"I’ve already booked theatre tickets. Can’t wait to see live shows. I’ve also booked a holiday so I can visit places of historical interest. What I can’t do is visit my son who lives and works in Dubai. I miss him so much."
Roy Smith, 74, Romsey
‘I will continue to be masked’
"Personal social responsibility assumes intelligence and compassion for fellow humans which doesn’t seem to register especially among those who refuse vaccinations for trivia. I will continue to be masked in confined and crowded areas including public transport, keep reasonably distanced where possible and always sanitised. Covid thrives in crowds and mutations are inevitable so no unnecessary, non essential trips for me."
Meera Emmerson, 67, Beckenham
‘Reasonable to omit masks’
"Come July 19, there is little to be thankful for as we are effectively told that if we don’t behave "as if" the laws on face coverings remained, these laws could be re-introduced. I believe it would reasonable to omit masks on public transport and
shops where there is no overt crowding."
Stephen Bernhoeft, 52, Derbyshire
‘I plan to start living again’
"Firstly, may I admit to being one of the elderly variety and I want to thank everyone concerned for the care given to my generation at the beginning. Thank goodness we are nearing the end of this first trial! My belief is that if I catch it now I will be most unlucky! I can’t blame anyone, least of all the government and NHS who have done their very best with this pandemic. We can all be very wise after the event. Now I plan to start living again but, will mask when using my bus pass, and using the train. It is worth the effort to help myself and others. But, I won’t be stepping into the road to allow people to pass by on the pavement anymore! Hugging my family is the most important of all."
Judith Fisher, 77, West Sussex
‘Masks are there to protect others’
"In their haste to be comfortable, people seem to have forgotten that masks are there to protect others. Our young people, serving our food, working our bars, filling our shelves, are not yet double-jabbed. I will continue to protect others and wear my mask in the same way. 500 Long Covid cases a day predicted? Terrifying."
Cath Bright, 46, Suffolk
‘I will enjoy foreign travel again’
"The only concessions I have made to Covid have been the wearing of a mask when asked to do so, purely as a courtesy, and having the two jabs, which seemed a sensible precaution. I will enjoy foreign travel again once the present travelling uncertainty has subsided."
Roger Cowley, 72, Bristol
‘I’ll stop wearing masks’
"I’m going back to normal. I’m double jabbed and I volunteered at a vaccination centre for the last six months. I’ve been exposed to up to 400-600 people per shift. I’ve attended two festivals without a mask with no issues. I’ll stop wearing them from the 19th when I set out on my campervan for 10 days."
Mick Kelly, 67, Leicester
‘Border controls needed’
"We have to have Covid passports, not just to go abroad, but to safely move around our own country and protect the citizens who are sitting ducks at the ‘seaside’. This means some sort of border controls, maybe introduce it at toll stations. Far fetched? The alternative is to see the pandemic take over your holiday destination in the UK and see me and my husband become very ill, and even lose our lives."
Shirley Harper, 75, Teignmouth, Devon
‘Travel by train and visit pubs’
"Life will not be a lot different from now. I shall continue to travel by train and visit pubs and occasionally restaurants (provided that there is enough separation and/or we can sit outside), and shall probably continue to wear a face covering in shops and on trains."
Stuart Hicks, 75, Reading
‘I don’t want to put myself at risk’
"I’m 65-years-old and very healthy but I don’t want to put myself at risk. I’ve enjoyed going camping and staying in b&bs and eating out since hospitality opened but for me all that stops now as the numbers of infections are increasing so dramatically. It’s just become too risky again. We should keep the current restrictions in place so that we can retain a reasonable semblance of normality."
Jill Harrison, 65, Stretton on Fosse
‘Retreat back into our home, scared’
"We had got to a position where we were happy to visit a pub because tables were socially distanced. We could visit a supermarket as they checked the numbers in and cleaned the trolley and everyone was wearing a mask. We now have no option but to retreat back into our home, scared."
Susan Fox, 70, Hollingbourne
‘Pandemic is a long way from over’
"I don’t intend to do anything differently. This pandemic is a long way from over and resurgences are due to relaxations in personal behaviour and governmental vacillation. With the success of the vaccination programme the number of cases should be falling not rising. Social distancing has clearly gone out of the window and mask-wearing should still be obligatory."
Mike Thompson, Farnham
‘I will continue on regardless’
"I will be continuing on as I am. I cannot take these vaccinations because of my health issues I am waiting for a traditional vaccine to come out. I will continue to wear two masks when I leave the house even when I’m walking down the street. The other day a man passing with an open car window coughed towards me with a vile gesture. I will continue on regardless. This just makes me more determined to protect myself and others in any way I can. Even when vaccinated I won’t be changing. My mask. My choice. Civic responsibility."
Gina Kerr, 64, Wirral
‘Horrible, sorry mess’
"I will not be wearing a mask any longer. I am fed up with being threatened with figures of infections rising, deaths and yet another variant on the horizon. This situation has now degenerated into a horrible, sorry mess. We have had constant confusion, goalposts moving constantly and the promise that the vaccines were our path to freedom. It appears that the latter isn’t true, otherwise we would be making some headway and allowing our economy to get up and running properly without government interference. Now we’re about to be restricted on going to the pubs and restaurants by having to have a Covid passport!"
Maggie Scott, 73, Somerset
‘Freedom is our daughter vaccinated’
"Nothing changes. My family feel unable to visit restaurants, theatres, and shops because our fifteen-year-old daughter has severe asthma and allergies triggered by viruses and is unvaccinated. I am grateful for my AstraZeneca Covid vaccination and the fact that my husband and elderly relatives have all been jabbed. However, freedom is our daughter vaccinated and Covid safe."
Rachel Whitehouse, 50, St Albans
‘Swelling of gratitude’
"I will look the same; grey hair, mask and steamed up glasses in shops and trains. But within me a swelling of gratitude both for the vaccine and the clear intent that we will not keep draconian laws when their time has passed. So I will engage with the scary and onerous task of taking personal responsibility."
Barbara Nixon, 66, South West London
‘I may be more cautious’
"I will do nothing different, well I may be more cautious. Our habits should change for good, not because its in vogue. It is proven that hand washing on entry to any shop and exit has decreased colds and flus. So why stop it? Just stop people from making money off the back of it. To the Telegraph for cartoons, headline and recipes, thanks for keeping us up to date with the news."
Lorraine Waldron, Gloucestershire
‘We all have a social responsibility’
"If mandatory face mask wearing is scrapped I will feel very unsafe and I’ll continue to wear face masks in public places and on public transport. I will think twice about supermarket shopping, order online and stick to small shops where possible. I rarely go to the pub, but if I do will sit outside, likewise at cafes. In general, I’ll do my best to avoid crowded places. I feel that we all have a social responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe, so the wearing of masks, which has shown to be effective in controlling the virus, shouldn’t be left up to individual discretion. I sincerely hope that the government will yield to public opinion and reinstate this."
Frances Ryan, 66, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire
‘Be very careful’
"I expect my husband and I will continue to wear masks, keep our distance and be very careful. We are both double vaccinated but my husband of 81 tested positive for Cover in June, after a visit to the local pub. Thankfully, I have continued to test negative.
Susan Sorway, 73, North Yorkshire
‘I like Zoom better’
"I don’t plan to change my behaviour at all except to be very wary of folks who have stopped wearing their masks. I’ve had two doses of the Oxford jab. My husband has been doing most of our shopping during Covid and I’ve cut right down on meeting up with people. I go to church and I’m hoping ours doesn’t open any time soon. I like Zoom better than in person meetings (church ones anyway) even when Covid has gone!"
Joy Hewitt, 58, Evesham
‘The law is on my side’
"I will not wear a mask anywhere unless I am obliged to do so. I will meet with friends – but that is rarely with more than six even before Covid. I will go back to the theatre and cinema as soon as there is something I want to see. I’ll be thankful that the law is on my side."
Felicity Griffiths, 67, Cobham, Surrey
‘Bring it on’
"Next Monday I shall go into town and do a normal shop. For the first time in a year though my glasses won’t steam up and the back of my ears will not be sore. More importantly I shall be able to communicate with like minded folk without lots of ‘say again please’ and ‘ I can’t make out what you are saying’. Bring it on. And curse those one dimensional fools who have ignored, underestimated or recklessly disregarded the harms caused by lockdowns and restrictions."
David Proctor, 66, North Yorkshire
‘I won’t feel grateful’
"I will be more cautious and more nervous and won’t feel grateful for any of the changes. I now feel I need to avoid restaurants, and other enclosed spaces until cases reduce significantly. This is despite having had both my jabs. The Government is not following the rules it set: reducing cases and lowered pressure on the NHS."
Celia Marsh, 61, Teddington
‘It will be great to see each other in person again’
"I feel we should be cautious but resolute in getting things moving again! I am lucky to live in a community where people are considerate about giving others space and wearing masks where it is advisable. I belong to a group of ladies of a certain age ("The Red Hat Society"); we normally have a "Hoot" once a month – some sort of fun outing. We’ve kept in touch with Zoom over the past months, so we aren’t totally bereft of human contact, but it will be great to see each other in person again!"
Judith Robinson, 83, Crewkerne, Somerset
‘Flight training in a maskless manner’
"I will certainly be exercising all my freedoms, as a rural teenager in Suffolk, lockdown and restrictions have completely limited my way of life. I’ll be getting out travelling around the country and hopefully Europe with mates and start my flight training in a maskless manner!"
Brandon Stuff, 17, Suffolk
‘Just need to buy the Pimms’
"The first thing I am looking forward to is having a Bridge 8 again at my house. Playing bridge online was fine but nothing like the real thing. Just need to buy the Pimms."
Helen Belcham, 77, Wirral
‘We will not be taking part yet’
"My husband and I do not travel abroad anymore, and this is not due to Covid but personal choice as the time spent in airports and crowded planes is just not worth it. I will still wear a mask if I am in a crowded indoor place, and also on public transport. This is due to the fact that I do not trust people I don’t know anymore. We will also wear one if requested to do so by shops, restaurants etc. Social activities that we took part in before Covid, choir, art class etc are on hold at the moment and we will not be taking part yet."
Sue Warrillow, 79, Gloucester
‘We are all doing our best’
"Briefly, I am vulnerable, double jabbed and awaiting the booster. I shall continue to wear a mask and stay away from places where people congregate. Distance and hand washing is important. My young relatives are all getting the jab. We are all doing our best. I wish everyone would."
Rosemary Henry, 87
‘I found a new inner peace’
"During the lockdowns I found a new inner peace through gardening and walking, so I won’t be going back to my old, hectic lifestyle. This is not a ‘thin life’ as has been suggested by others, merely a different, equally valid one. Nor will I stop wearing a mask, a responsibility I owe to myself and others."
Geraldine Woods-Humphery, 68, Herefordshire
‘Open the economy safely’
"I think too much emphasis has been put on the NHS and not enough on the young and businesses many of whom – I believe well over two million people – have lost their jobs. So the decision makers need to find ways to open the economy safely. I would make getting the vaccine compulsory for instance."
Alec Stephenson, 77, Hinxworth