Clinically vulnerable will be ‘forgotten’ says Lancashire mother as Covid rules to be lifted

ITV Granada Reports' political correspondent Lise McNally has this report.

Laura Lovell has been shielding her family for nearly two years.

Her youngest son is clinically vulnerable and has severe learning disabilities.

He has not been able to attend his Special Education Needs school in West Lancashire since March 2020.

Now 11 years old, it means he has missed out on crucial learning and social experiences.

With the coronavirus vaccines finally being rolled out to eligible children, along with testing and isolating positive cases, Laura was hoping he and his older brother would soon be able to get back to the classroom.

But with the Government unveiling their 'Living With Covid' plan, she now feels such a move would be unsafe.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that all of England's coronavirus rules will be lifted.

The requirement to self-isolate if you have tested positive for the virus will end on the 24th of February, although the advice will still be to stay at home.

Universal, free Covid tests will also be scrapped on 1st April.

Laura's youngest son is clinically vulnerable and has severe learning disabilities. Credit: ITV News

Laura says she feels "angry" that the clinically vulnerable are being forgotten about - and does not understand why measures that could allow people to feel safe getting out and about are being taken away.

"It is really important to keep protections in place - I wouldn't call them restrictions, a lockdown is a restriction - but keeping protections in place like testing, like isolating positive contacts, these are all really important for keeping vulnerable people safe".

She added "Everybody struggled with the lockdowns when we had them, but people who are vulnerable have been essentially locked down for two years and they don't want to be locked down anymore."

"The irony is, is that by the government removing the very few protections that we have, the lockdown continues for families that are vulnerable"

There will no longer be any requirement to self-isolate following a positive test for anyone in England. Credit: PA images

Unions have also raised concerns that sick pay support isn't sufficient for this move away from pandemic status - that it leaves the UK vulnerable to new variants and future pandemics, if people have to choose between isolating and putting food on the table

From the end of March workers suffering from coronavirus will have to wait until their fourth day of sickness before they can get Statuatory Sick Pay (SSP).  

The TUC says the decision will hit working people across the economy – with 7.8 million workers relying on SSP when they fall ill. 

Jay McKenna, who is the TUC North West Regional Secretary, says their research and conversations with workers suggests that many people won't be able to afford "to make the right decision"

He said: "People, if they're not able to access testing, if they're worried, they won't be paid if they've got symptoms and are not able to self-isolate anymore or are not required to self isolate, can they afford to take time off work?

"I think the reality for too many is that they won't be able to do so."

Manchester Credit: PA images

But others say the move had to come sometime - a welcome dose of certainty for businesses in the North West who have been among the hardest hit in the country by various lockdowns and local restrictions.

Mr Johnson said the plan was about “finally giving people back their freedom” after “one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history”

Robert Downes from the Federation of Small Businesses Greater Manchester says that while it will take time for the public to start think about a "back to normal mindset", it is really important that we do.

He added "I think it's a huge symbolic moment - a lot of businesses across Greater Manchester will be thanking their stars that this has come".