Mansfield MP says it is time to 'strike a balance' but Mayor urges caution over 'Freedom Day'
As ‘Freedom Day’ signalled the relaxation of restrictions across the country, some residents were left questioning the timing – whilst others welcomed the return to normality.
From July 19 there is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings, no limits on the number of people you can meet and you will not need to stay two metres apart from people you do not live with.
Whilst many are welcoming the relaxation of restrictions, key prominent figures in the area are urging residents to remain cautious and to respect individuals and organisations who are opting to keep some measures in place.
Ben Bradley, leader of Nottinghamsire County Council and MP for Mansfield, says that whilst he understands those who are concerned about the lifting of restrictions, that he believes now is the right time to begin easing back into a more normal life.
He said: “I believe that, whilst some welcome the lifting of restrictions and some are dead against it, most people are somewhere in the middle.
"I understand people’s worries, but we have to strike a balance and I fully believe things are in our favour now, with school holidays and decent weather all helping.
"The data tells us it is as good a time as any to start lifting restrictions.
"We do need to be cautious and a lot of businesses are taking a common sense approach to things, and I hope that will continue.
"My experience so far is that people are using their common sense whilst out and about, and many businesses are choosing to keep some of the restrictions for staff and customers, which gives people options if they wish to remain cautious.
"I hope that this will continue.”
Mansfield Mayor Andy Abrahams urged residents, especially those who are clinically vulnerable or unvaccinated, to continue taking precautions to keep the town safe.
He said: “As the Prime Minister said, sadly the pandemic is not over.
"Within recent weeks cases have been increasing on a daily basis and the number of people in hospital is rising too.
“We’ve come so far and it’s important that we don’t undo the good work that we’ve done.
"We must make informed decisions and act carefully to manage the risks to ourselves and others.
“I urge everyone to continue to wear face masks in enclosed, crowded spaces, on public transport and in health settings.
"Many businesses will have their own Covid measures in place and I’d ask you to respect these for your own safety and that of other customers and staff.
“If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated then you should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others.
"Mansfield District Council employees will continue to wear masks and socially distance and the council is asking visitors to council premises to do the same."
Residents can support the national efforts to stop the spread by getting vaccinated and by continuing to undertake regular lateral flow testing.Anyone over the age of 18 can walk into any vaccination centre across Nottinghamshire and get their jab.
For local residents and workers the Mansfield Vaccination Centre is located in the former Wickes building on Chesterfield Road South and is open daily.Lateral flow testing can be done at home by ordering online, or by collecting kits from the community testing centre at Mansfield Town Football Club open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm.Mayor Abrahams continued: “The principles of hands, face, space, fresh air are ones that we can all continue to use to help keep Mansfield safe for the long-term.”
Julie Hogg, chief nurse and infection control lead at Sherwood Forest Hospitals confirmed that King’s Mill Hospital will continue to request patients and visitors wear masks.
She explained: “The public and our patients have been so supportive during the past 16 months and we can’t thank them enough.
"Our ask this week is that they keep on supporting us so that we can keep vulnerable patients safe.
“We know that restricted compassionate visiting is particularly hard and we review this regularly so that we can increase visiting as soon as possible.
"Covid is still at a higher rate in the local community than we would like and until infection rates come down, every visitor increases the risk of infection either coming into our hospital or going out with a visitor.
“If you or your loved one had a compromised immune system or were recovering after a serious operation, you would want us to do everything we could to keep them safe.
"Patients with these conditions are being treated in our hospitals every day, so we need to keep rules in place for a bit longer.
"Please bear with us and please keep helping us so that we can help you and your loved ones.”
Chief executive for East Midlands Chamber, Scott Knowles also confirmed that many businesses in the area are to continue with restrictions in an effort to minimise infection rate and avoid closure.
He said: “It’s fantastic to be at a stage where further reopening of the economy can take place.
"However, it’s important that the everyone understands that face coverings and hand sanitising might not disappear overnight from all workplaces, businesses and venues.
“Firms recognise that they need to continue to play their part in keeping employees and customers safe – as they have done throughout the course of the pandemic.
“Businesses will welcome the removal of some specific legal restrictions, such as mandatory face coverings in indoor settings, but the guidance also underlines that they still have an overall responsibility to minimise risk to those in their premises.
"Individual businesses know best what this means for them and it is important that employees and customers alike respect the decisions they take for how they operate.”