Ahead of latest covid plan: What people and firms want to happen next
- Credit: PA
Prime minister Boris Johnson will lay out his plan for how the UK will handle Covid over winter, when cases are expected to rise later today.
He is expected to tell the nation how the country can learn to live with the virus, underlining how vaccinations will be a central part of the ongoing response.
Covid laws that are no longer required will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large crowd venues have been shelved.
The travel traffic lights system is also expected to be scrapped and PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers.
Speaking on Monday, work and pensions secretary, and Waveney MP, Therese Coffey said some regulations may still be needed as the NHS prepares to battle both Covid and seasonal flu in the winter months, including work from home advice.
We asked businesses and people living in Norfolk for their thoughts on the plan and what they'd like to see happen.
'Public should be be able to use their own initiative'
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Emily Phipps, landlady at The Angel in Watlington, said she would like the restrictions to continue as they are and hopes the PM will leave it for the public to "use their own initiative."
She said: "I think people have had enough of the restrictions, we didn't have the full Christmas that we all expected last year, and it would be good to really celebrate it with the office parties and things, rather than have to deal with restrictions.
"All restaurants I know are taking precautions, we're all trying to be Covid safe, there are sanitisers everywhere, we're all using antivirals.
"We leave it up to customers discretion if they want to wear masks in the pub and our staff discretion as well, some of our staff want and do wear masks on a daily basis.
"So we are trying to take every single Covid precaution that we can do and it will be nice to see it rewarded in the fact it was left down to public opinion."
She said if restrictions were put in place it would have a "detrimental effect on all hospitality".
She added: "We haven't gone back from table spacing, so that wouldn't affect us at the moment.
"What we are hoping is that he will allow businesses to act responsibly, and to make the correct judgements. In hospitality it's about socialisation, all the restrictions he brought in were to prevent socialisation so in that way we are the main businesses affected by that kind of restriction.
"To bring restrictions in again, will completely ruin it for a lot of businesses."
'Lockdown should be a last resort'
James Groves, managing director of Norwich-based energy consultancy firm Indigo Swan, said he supported prime minister Boris Johnson's statement that a further lockdown would be "a last resort".
He said: "We have learned a lot from the lockdowns and it has had a positive effect on the way we work, in that we're in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and at home on Mondays and Fridays.
"Having that flexibility has been good, but being together is a big part of our business. While you get a bit of that on Zoom, having three days in the office allows us to collaborate together, to train and to coach.
"If there's times when staff would rather be at home than we'd support them where we can, but I don't think there's many businesses in Norfolk which would want to see a full five-day lockdown again.
"Obviously, we'd do it if we're told to, but I support what Boris Johnson has said in another lockdown being a last resort."
'It's a difficult decision'
Maria Barber, who runs the flower shop Daisy's of Dereham, said people should continue to behave sensibly over the coming months, adding: “I just don't want to go into another lockdown."
But she said: “It was no real difference for me, other than the shop being closed, [even] with all the restrictions and the Covid. I still carried on as I saw normal, it was just that people weren’t allowed in the shop.
“I did click-and-collect from the door, and that sort of thing, so if things do change and there’s another lockdown, it is what it is and I know I could still carry on.
“From other people’s points of view, it’s not so easy. Fingers crossed, it won’t [happen].”
Asked about the prime minister’s focus on increasing vaccinations in an attempt to avoid another lockdown, she said: “I can fully understand that, but then I can understand on the other side that there are people who don’t wish to have them, so it’s a difficult one.”
‘Keeping children in school has to be our priority’
Stuart Allen, headteacher at Mile Cross Primary in Norwich, said remaining open to pupils was the top priority for schools even if it meant learning to live with restrictions.
“From an education standpoint our main concern is trying to get children in every day going forward because they have missed enough school over this pandemic,” he said.
“Every school, whether that’s infant, junior, primary or secondary, will come up with their own restrictions. The governors will then decide on what is the best plan going forward.
“For us as a school we will continue to have various restrictions, such as face-masks and social distancing. We see that happening throughout the rest of the year.”
Winter will bring added pressures, he added.
“We are looking to get every child vaccinated against the flu. Like other schools we are looking to vaccinate our staff as well,” he said.
“We are continuing with ventilation, washing hands regularly and we are going to continue in bubble formats. We are looking for this year to make sure we stay open as much as we possibly can.”
'I think everyone is bored of dealing with it'
Laura James is a journalist and author, from Reepham, who has had to shield throughout the pandemic and says her life has “changed beyond recognition”.
The 51-year-old has a complex set of health conditions including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
She said: “I know lots of people are vaccinated, which is great, but it all just seems a little bit worrying. I think everyone is bored of dealing with it but the fact is, you can’t just bore a virus out of existence.
“The other thing I'm worried about is how long lasting the vaccine immunity is. I had my first vaccine in January.
“I think anybody who was on the shielding list is going to be hesitant. There is still a killer virus out there. We all need to take personal responsibility and keep each other safe as much as we can.”
Speaking about the idea of a winter lockdown, Ms James said “we need to remain open minded”.
“If the NHS was overwhelmed, there were a high number of deaths and it was unavoidable then I would support it," Ms James added. "It’s about balance; everything from the economy to mental health but we just don’t know what is going to happen.”