'Once the masks are off, my freedom goes', Warrington teen pleads for public not to ditch masks

Report and article by Correspondent Mel Barham

Nearly all Covid-19 lockdown restrictions will be scrapped in England on 19 July, but for many, this so-called 'Freedom Day' will be anything but.

For those who are classed as clinically vulnerable, and have been shielding for most of the last year, Monday will be a day of dread.

With legal restrictions on social distancing and mask-wearing coming to an end, many fear their protection from coronavirus will be taken away.

Masks will not legally have to be worn after July 19th, although the Government guidance is still to wear in crowded indoor settings

An estimated 3.7 million people in the UK are thought to be classed as extremely clinically vulnerable.

One of them is 19-year-old Sophie Byrom from Warrington.

Sophie Byron is recovering from a bone marrow transplant and as such, is classed as extremely clinically vulnerable Credit: ITV

Sophie underwent a bone marrow transplant in February 2021 after being diagnosed with a rare blood disease.

Sophie Byrom underwent a bone marrow transplant in February

She is still on immune suppressants which makes her extremely clinical vulnerable and she's not been able to have the vaccine yet because she has to wait six months post transplant.

For her, freedom day is a day to dread, when she will have to lock herself indoors again, and she believes vulnerable people in society are being forgotten, as the Government rolls out the next stage of its roadmap.

While the government announced that they would be moving forward with their roadmap on 19 July, and lifting most of the coronavirus restrictions, Sophie and her family feel they have failed to think about those who are vulnerable.

Sophie's twin sister Meg says the family, who are all in public-facing jobs, are being forced back into lockdown to keep Sophie safe.

Meg says she is worried about keeping her sister safe

"At the time when everyone else is taking their masks off, I'm having to put two on at work," she says.

"My mum's a nurse, my step dad works at the airport, I work in a bar, to what extent can we really keep her safe? "

The Government has come under fire for removing the mandatory wearing of face masks in the next stage of restrictions.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has also said people should continue to wear facemasks on public transport after restrictions are lifted on the 19 July.

He urged people to put themselves in other's shoes when it came to using them in crowded places.

Sixteen health charities have urged ministers to support around 500,000 people for whom the Covid-19 vaccines may give less protection.

Meanwhile more than 120 scientists and doctors have also signed a letter in The Lancet accusing the UK Government of conducting a "dangerous and unethical experiment" and urging it to rethink the move to abandon all curbs.