Bournemouth officials back removing Covid restrictions

Residents of DORSET have reacted to the news that England will lift Covid restrictions this week.

Under the new plan for ‘Living with Covid’, the legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus will end on Thursday. Free lateral flow tests will also be removed from April 1.

The news has been greeted with concern by many, who say vulnerable people will be left at risk by the changes.

However, Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, said: “I think it’s good news that we’re going to be the first country to be completely restrictions-free and to move on from Covid. It’s really, really good, in especially for an economy like ours that relies heavily on the tourism and leisure industries.”

On the end of free Covid testing for the majority of the population, Mr Burns said: ‘I think the Prime Minister has made it very clear that there will be further announcements about the categories of people who can benefit from free tests from April.

“The reality is that we have to learn to live with this. We have to continue to care for those with weakened immune systems and vulnerable people.”

Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope said Boris Johnson’s statement in the House of Commons was “one of the best announcements I have heard in a long time”.

“It was music to my ears,” Sir Christopher added.

The backbench MP said it was ‘reasonable’ for people who want to take a test from April to pay for it, while vulnerable residents could still access it free of charge.

Sir Christopher said: “You’ve had to pay for a test if you’re traveling overseas, so if people want to get tested for any reason in the future they should pay for it.”

Some local businesses in the hospitality industry are welcoming the removal of Covid restrictions.

Andy Lennox, Founder of The Wonky Table, said: “All of our members are thrilled that the restrictions are finally over and we can get back to some kind of normality.”

Mark Cribb, owner of Urban Guild venues in Bournemouth, said: “For hospitality, this will be our first full summer exchange for three years, so we’re really delighted the Easter holidays are starting and I’m delighted that this been the best we’ve had since 2019.”

Speaking of Covid advice for his staff, he said: “I guess where we’re not testing we won’t know when people have Covid so I guess it’s inevitable that there will be people at the working with Covid, but I guess the government are aware of that.

“I think if people test positive for Covid we’ll ask them to stay home for a few days, wait to see if any symptoms develop, and then depending on how that progresses, maybe they can come back to work a little earlier. could but obviously people who test positive and have symptoms we will insist that they stay away.

Tom Doherty, managing director of the human resources department at Bournemouth, Poole, East Dorset and New Forest, said: “It is obviously up to companies themselves to review their own rules.

“At the end of the day, there is no legal basis after February 24 for people to continue self-isolating, but the advice to everyone would probably always be if you are not feeling well enough, whatever the nature of the illness, to go to work, then you shouldn’t and always have.

“What actually happened is the government didn’t give huge notice for this to end and like a lot of businesses everyone is going to have to figure that out, within the confines of their staff , its business and rules. are.

“We advise you to be considerate, to think about people’s views, to clearly communicate the rules you are going to put in place and to be transparent in what you are trying to accomplish.”

Members of the public had mixed views on the removal of restrictions on Thursday.

Jamie Evans, 32, who works in retail, said: “It’s a good thing the restrictions are being lifted. I worked in a supermarket during the worst, but I’m done with everything now. We have to move forward.

Mary Wilkinson, 71, retired, said: “I don’t think we should get rid of the restrictions. I will always wear my mask, but if we all stop isolating ourselves when we test positive, how will we know if new variants appear? »

Student Lucy Bradshaw, 20, said: “I understand why some people will feel uncomfortable, so I think we should all be considerate and see how it goes.”

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