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Freedom Day: Covid wary shoppers wear masks in Dover, Deal and Sandwich despite Freedom Day liberties

The cages are open but few are escaping.

Despite Freedom Day today, the final lifting of nearly all coronavirus restrictions, most people in Dover resolutely kept on their face masks in shops and other enclosed areas.

Colin Friend. Picture: Sam Lennon
Colin Friend. Picture: Sam Lennon

Wearing them is no longer legally enforceable but coronavirus cases continue to rise and people Kent Online spoke to said they would keep them on.

Margaret Hodkinson, of Durham Hill, Dover, said: "I will still wear a mask in shops and on buses.

"It is better that way for the time being.

"I think the Government has unlocked the country too soon."

Emma Watt, of Elvington, said: "I will keep my mask in shops, it is better to be on the safe side. Prevention is better than cure.

Margaret Hodkinson. Picture: Sam Lennon
Margaret Hodkinson. Picture: Sam Lennon

"The R number has been going up and down.

"We still need to use masks until things have stabilised."

Pensioner Patricia Boughton, of River, said she would do the same, explaining: "I don't want to catch the disease or give it to anyone."

Roger Bishop, of Dover Western Heighs, agreed, saying: "'I'm a Jehovah's Witness and we believe all life is sacred.

"The virus is still out there and and our organisation is keeping our meeting places closed."

Vera Holman. Picture: Sam Lennon
Vera Holman. Picture: Sam Lennon

Vera Holman, 83, of York Street, Dover, has a medical card exempting her from wearing a mask because of breathing difficulties.

She said: "In a very enclosed place like a lift I cover my mouth and nose with a tissue and in shops I stay socially distanced.

"I will still continue to do that and I think people should still wear masks from now on."

Most customers and staff in shops still wore them today.

That was evident in The Food Warehouse in the town's St James' Retail and Leisure Park although with one couple the woman had one on and the man didn't.

A public notice in Biggin Street, Dover, before Freedom Day: and people are sticking to the advice.
A public notice in Biggin Street, Dover, before Freedom Day: and people are sticking to the advice.

In nearby Marks and Spencer both young and old customers wore them.

One M&S shopper, Colin Friend, 73, of River, said: "I'll go with the flow of it. If there is a place where people are not wearing masks I won't. But if they are concerned enough to do so I will too.

"But I never believed in lockdown and I think they should have had plenty of special isolation hospitals for Covid patients to keep them out of ordinary hospitals.

"they had one like one in Tower Hamlets when I was young."

Mask wearing was still very much the norm in Sandwich. Shoppers, appearing to heed warnings that the pandemic is still not over, walked in and out of shops with their face protection on. And some chose to walk and cycle around the streets fully masked.

Masks were still a feature on Freedom Day in Deal High Street
Masks were still a feature on Freedom Day in Deal High Street

A head count in Londis, Market Street, was an even split, where some had chosen to take advantage of their new freedoms, but most staff in the shop continued to protect themselves.

Megan Boulton, owner of Goats that Dance in King Street said: “If people are moving around the shop, I would prefer them to wear masks and I’m trying to encourage people to sit outside as we have tables and chairs outside. Staff wear the masks if they want to.

Peter Ayling of Restaurant Tan Buno in New Street said: “I think our staff can’t wait to take them off!

"We’ve taken our signs down because it’s spacious and well ventilated and we still have hand sanitiser."

Mask wearers were present in shops and Deal High Street but were fewer than in neighbouring Sandwich.

The Delta variant of coronavirus is constantly pushing up the number of infections with 48,161 more in the UK in the 24 hours up to 4pm yesterday.

On July 18 last year, before this more infectious strain arrived, the day to day figure was just 827.

Deaths in the 24 hours to yesterday afternoon came to 25, compared with 40 in the same 24 hours last year. Vaccinations, which began in the UK last December, have kept death rates lower this summer.

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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