Three-quarters of iC readers say they will still wear masks

More than three-quarters of Inside Croydon readers say that they will continue to wear a face covering in public places, despite today’s government relaxation of precautions against the spread of covid-19.

Today marks what some have tried to characterise as “Freedom Day”, with the lifting of a range of lockdown measures, while others, concerned at the rapidly rising rates of infection in a third wave of coronavirus, point to recent trials of unmasked mass gatherings as super-spreader events.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show more than 48,000 new cases of covid-19 in the last 24 hours, 25 per cent higher than seven days earlier. The majority of new cases are from the Johnson variant,  known by some as the Delta variant. So much for “data before dates”.

In total, more than 128,000 people in Britain have died as a result of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

These are the people who could be running the council in 10 months’ time

In Croydon, meanwhile, the local Tories were tweeting to their handful of followers that most gammon of phrases, “Happy Freedom Day”, seemingly without the slightest regard for the thousands of people in the borough who have died, the tens of thousands more whose lives have been blighted by the virus, nor the hundreds of frontline workers, especially in the NHS,  who may be placed at risk by what many scientists believe is an ill-advised and premature change in the laws on covid precautions.  

At the heart of the debate over the lifting of lockdown is the removal of the obligation to wear masks in shops, in public spaces or on public transport.

In London, where transport workers were particularly badly affected in the first wave in March and April 2020, Mayor Sadiq Khan has insisted that masks are a “condition of carriage” on Transport for London buses, Tubes, Overground trains and trams.

The local NHS is quite clear about where it stands on the issue

“Remember, it’s still a requirement to wear a face mask on all TfL services unless you’re exempt,” Khan tweeted this morning.

“Face masks remain one of the most effective ways of stopping the transmission of covid-19—help keep yourself and other Londoners safe.”

His counterpart in Manchester, Andy Burnham, has made similar moves, and has been openly critical of the vacillating and inconsistent leadership offered from Downing Street. Yesterday, the Mayor of Manchester called on government to provide more clarity.

“Ministers should start now and make a clear statement that masks will continue to be mandatory on all public transport,” Burnham said.

Mayor Khan and TfL chiefs fear that the government’s mixed messaging – mask-wearing on Thameslink or Southern trains, though strongly recommended by the operators, is now only “advisory” – will undermine their efforts and make the task facing transport staff much harder.

City Hall will take some encouragement, then, from the results of an exclusive Inside Croydon poll, where 77 per cent of readers said that they would continue to use a mask or face covering in public spaces after today’s change in the rules.

The poll has been running for the past week, and although entirely unscientific, the sample size of readers, at more than 400, suggests a significant number in Croydon will be continuing to adopt best practice in the interests of the health and safety of others.

In Croydon, the NHS Trust has been running a series of public health campaigns, including reminders that masks are mandatory at its hospitals and surgeries, and also out and about at West Croydon Station on Sunday, trying to persuade people to get vaccinated against the virus.

NHS staff were at West Croydon yesterday trying to persuade members of the public to get vaccinated

There are signs from health officials in the borough that the take up of the vaccine, despite strenuous efforts in establishing a series of pop-up jab centres, has not been good enough to ensure that infection rates won’t accelerate as a result  of the removal of other precautions.

Some local businesses,  having been so hard-hit by the economic impact of the pandemic over the last 18 months, are still being cautious about how they expose their staff and customers to the change in regulations.

The Oval Tavern has announced that mask-wearing would continue to be a condition on their premises and that they would continue to ventilate the building and provide hand sanitiser.

The owner, Esther Sutton, said: “I hope we can gradually return to ‘normality’ over the coming months, but we’re not quite there yet I feel!”

And the Jolly Farmers Pub has also put out a similar message, confirming that masks should still be worn when moving around their Purley premises.

Additional reporting: Sanjana Idnani

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Three-quarters of iC readers say they will still wear masks

  1. Ben says:

    Can’t believe that any serious person would consider this any kind of “Freedom Day”. Depressing. lets see how much they’re crowing when shops and businesses are forced to close from lack of staff due to hugely increased transmission rates.

    I’m not sure how representive Inside Croydon readers are to Croydon in general unfortunately – even before today mask-wearing rates feel pretty low to me around here.

  2. Jane smith says:

    Loving going into my gym and not seeing any masks in the foyer

  3. croydonres says:

    Freedom Day poem

    This Freedom Day has been un-masked.
    It is, at best, an inane yawn.
    Brainchild of Boris ?

    A non-event. A hollow pumpkin, cut out like a jack-o-lantern,
    containing just a night light, a glimmer of a real candle, soon to be snuffed out by the wind,
    or a hologram image– a phoney celebration.

    The smiles on the joke masks were more genuine
    than the smiles we wear now in close proximity to motor mouths down the pub.

    At worst, the dawn
    of a resurgent virus.

    A sad event, casting a shadow over summer,
    betokening yet more people off sick, a new lack of public confidence,
    and the re-emptying of the high street.

    Meanwhile, in the post-Brexit fields,
    fruit and veg go unpicked as locals are too posh to pick,
    and the foreign workers have pulled up bean sticks, and pushed off back home,
    unappreciated by the indigenous folk (who don’t much like eating their 5 a day anyway)
    and prefer their peas in a can.

    but are looking forward to the free trade bonus
    of chlorinated US chickens,
    and finger-lickin’ pulled-pork BBQ of hogs,
    all kept in cages and stinking yards in factory farms

    and prime steaks from steers raised in feedlots the size of England,
    built on prairies of concrete.

    and eating Aussie baa-lambs raised in 35 degrees in shadeless dust-bowl pastures.

    Not much freedom for all of them.
    They do not have a share with us
    in this Green and pleasant land, with pastures green,
    before we eat them.

    Enjoy Freedom Day, oh little England,
    and breathe in the fresh air in the queue at the checkout,
    just exhaled by our newly-maskless fellow inhabitants.

    Just cross your fingers and hope
    that your black or brown friend who works in the NHS won’t fall ill, and pass.

    Don’t worry,

    “All will be well” !

    Our leaders have told us

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    One has to consider the strange exemptions of the Government regulations. The strangest has been Croydon enforcement authorities interpretation of these.

    This Council allowed Domestic developments to continue (or perhaps anything they could pass via delegated authority as a legal development and Croydon receive revenue from?).

    The impact? Croydon planning felt it was o.k .to allow builders and developers to work within 1 inch of a shielded and isolated household and in fact to enter the said premises knowing there were critically vulnerable and ill people in residence.

    Not one contractor wore masks despite regulations. Not one enforcement was made on them by authorities. Even when associating with other builders who caught covid and went into isolation the other set despite being in contact with the builders who went into isolation on the adjoining works continued on with scant regard to said clinically extremely vulnerable neighbors. Trespassing at will and in touch with work people from utility companies and other people involved or visiting. Then the response from Croydon was the regulations in the building code are only voluntary (despite them being conditions of the planning permission also).

    It appears that no MP or ”special adviser” received a fine despite multiple purported investigations nor has anything been done with respects to the Care Home Deaths. (Family cannot visit but builders/developers or their agents can enter clinically extremely vulnerable peoples bedrooms at will legally if they are doing a development. Seriously?)

    Can anyone tell me if Cummings, any MP or builder got a fine and I have missed that report?

    It is common sense to maintain social distancing as it is to wear a mask in crowded or enclosed spaces unless it causes you respiratory issues short or long term or impacts detrimentally on your health. (or otherwise exempt) Any mask will protect others mostly, and ffp2+ will give you some protection also.

    In Croydon, there are being a minority of people who have no interest in doing so, whatever the regulatory environment.

    Today a couple in the Next outlet who were asked to give an elderly person a bit of space said ” we are not going to wait for you to finish” as they leaned over the person to the rail in front of the pensioner practically pushing him away this morning. (he had only been there for about 20 seconds at that time. This was the same things witnessed hourly in Croydon supermarkets during lock downs. Two acts both same behaviors and perhaps outcomes.

    Whilst this state continues, the cases will rise and unnecessary deaths will continue, as will the overloading of Hospitals in Croydon.

    Perhaps both the Police and the Council can take note of how VUE, Tesco, and our Mayor Mr Khan are thinking and acting.
    but sadly by their own actions and inactions Croydon enforcement authorities have lost all credibility when it comes to any interventions on this matter also.

    But as we have a debt solely of Political making and allowed by the changes and failures in the Local Government Act 2011 now enforced by Jenrycks minions – Whatever generates revenue will take priority and Public Health Croydon be dammed!

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