'Freedom Day' came today (Monday) but many in Banbury are sticking to their masks and social distancing

Boris Johnson's 'Freedom Day' dawned today (Monday) but while the Government relaxed almost all Covid restrictions, many Banbury shoppers kept their masks on.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 19th July 2021, 5:36 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 5:38 pm
Restriction rules were relaxed today but in Banbury many shoppers still wore their masks. Picture by Getty
Restriction rules were relaxed today but in Banbury many shoppers still wore their masks. Picture by Getty

Most visitors to the town's supermarkets appeared to be sticking to the precautions recommended when the pandemic took hold last year. Meanwhile NHS organisations sent out statements of their intention to continue restrictions for the sake of patients and staff.

Shopper Sharon Upton said: "I didn’t see anyone in Sainsbury’s this morning without a mask. I will wear mine; it’s taken all this time for me to get used to it."

David Pinfold said: "Masks were still pretty much being worn universally in Aldi this morning. Would expect the majority choose to continue doing so."

Brackley Medical Centre will continue to expect patients to wear masks and social distance unless they are exempt

And Rosy Burke said: "I will continue to wear masks as I don’t see why other people should have to breathe my breath particles at this risky time. It is out of respect for other people.

However some were glad to be able to go to town without having to wear a face covering. Doris Timms: "I'm glad to be rid of masks"

Avril Theobald said: "I will still be wearing mine in shops and centres." And Nick Welch said: "They should have kept present restrictions until everyone is vaccinated."

Banbury area surgeries have sent texts to patients to warn them that infection control will be maintained.

Windrush Surgery's text said: "From Monday, July 19 we will continue to maintain our infection control measures in the surgery. This is following guidance from Public Health England. We are continuing with two-metre social distancing, face coverings and PPE. It is our duty to do all that we can to keep patients and staff safe whilst we deliver care. Thanks for your continued support in helping keep everyone safe."

Oxfordshire NHS leaders elsewhere have confirmed that there will be no immediate changes to the current Covid-secure arrangements in healthcare settings.

Staff, patients and visitors must continue to follow guidelines, including wearing a face covering and complying with social distancing and hand hygiene guidance as before and visiting restrictions will remain in place.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In our hospitals we care for the sickest and most vulnerable patients, and we must do everything possible to keep them safe. Even if you have had two vaccinations, you can still carry and pass on Covid-19 to others. We are therefore asking visitors and patients coming to our hospitals to continue to follow the guidelines, wear a face covering, follow social distancing guidance and use good hand hygiene.

“When someone brings a community acquired Covid-19 infection into the hospital, they could affect other patients, visitors and our staff. For some of our patients a Covid-19 infection could be fatal, or severely delay their treatment for other diseases/procedures.

“We also have to protect our staff. If ward staff have to isolate, then we may have to postpone appointments or planned operations. And finally, we need to protect our visitors who are so important for our patients’ wellbeing. If a visitor or the patient that they are visiting tests positive for Covid-19, then visits are no longer possible.”

Brackley Medical Centre has confirmed the use of face masks or face coverings will remain in place.

“Throughout the pandemic we have strived to make Brackley Medical Centre as safe as possible for our patients and staff. We will continue to do so going forward. Patients and visitors to BMC will still be expected to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and use hand-sanitiser. Clinical staff will continue to wear PPE," said a spokesman.

“In terms of ‘opening up’ we have never been shut. We have worked throughout the pandemic offering both face-to-face and telephone consultations with GPs and other clinicians. Since December we have also been running regular Covid vaccination clinics and to date have administered more than 17,000 vaccines.

“The local community has come so far in trying to minimise the impact of Covid and we are sure (patients) understand that we need to keep Brackley Medical Centre as safe as we can.”

Public Health England has said that existing guidance on Covid infection control will continue beyond 19 July, meaning the current situation on mask-wearing in health and care settings will continue.

Visitors to all facilities and departments based in the new Brackley Medical Centre & Community Hospital building in Wellington Road will be expected to adhere to Covid infection control policies unless they are exempt. This means that masks should be worn and social distancing observed in Lowick Pharmacy, by patients attending outpatientsclinics, physiotherapy, podiatry etc and by anyone visiting the Community Hospital.