Covid "Freedom Day" - small business owners respond

ended 21. February 2022

This afternoon, the PM announced the end of legal self-isolation and published a ‘Living With Covid-19’ report. We sought the views of small business owners around the UK about the end of restrictions. Many think it's come too late, others too early, and others still think the way the end of self-isolation is being described as ‘Freedom Day’ is outright absurd.

18 responses from the Newspage community

'Covid Freedom Day being brought forward is almost certainly more about politics than people. Boris is under the cosh and needs something to distract everyone. Let's not also forget that at so many stages of the pandemic the Government has called it wrong. Isolating for a week seems to me the considerate and humane thing to do, in the same way I would do if I had flu. Not to mention if there’s no data due to no testing then there’s no way of determining if it’s a good idea or not. Now, that seems more what this is about."
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"It's time for the UK to put its big girl pants on again. We have been scared and infantilised for two years and the time has come for people to make decisions appropriate to their own circumstances. This is pure smoke and mirrors number from the Prime Minister as he limps along under the gaze of the Met, but bring on Covid Freedom Day."
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"The mystique around what's being referred to as Covid Freedom Day is over-hyped. The majority of people care about others and will continue to take all necessary steps to prevent the further spread of this disease. Independently of what the Prime Minister says, we all have to deal with it personally and privately. For example, I live with someone vulnerable so will still think twice before going to the office. If you know someone is not comfortable working face to face yet, give them time. If you know someone hates working from home because they feel alone but hasn't got the courage to go to the office, the only thing you can do as a business owner is to be there for them for when they are ready."
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"I have had Covid and it was the worst experience of my life. I have an auto immune disease called Hashimoto's so it hit me really hard. While I am really happy this will mean more people out supporting local businesses and rebuilding the economy, I am terrified. I hope people continue to use their common sense and still self-isolate if they have it."
"While it's difficult to have faith in anything Boris tells us these days, I think, on balance, it's the right thing to do. For the overwhelming majority, Omicron has mild symptoms and most people's immune systems can cope far better with Covid now. My only concern is some scientists are warning there's no guarantee the next variant will be mild like Omicron."
"There’s definitely a feeling of increased confidence coming through from business owners, who from an economic standpoint are keen to get back to some form of normality and who believe that Covid freedom day has perhaps come too late. As business owners, we are all acutely aware that we need to try and trade our way out of this but we need to be careful that in an attempt to “get back to work”, we don’t try to run before we can walk, and that we remain mindful of the many red flags that switching to personal responsibility will undoubtedly bring."
"The progress over the past few months has been fantastic with the UK public getting behind the booster programme with the results showing we are now in a place whereby we can live with Covid rather than have to continually fight against it. I'm fully supportive of the decision to end the restrictions and hope it will begin to free up the supply chains and allow workplaces to operate at full capacity once again. As an employer, I will still be asking colleagues to not come into work should they feel ill but this isn't anything new. We'll be implementing common sense once again."
"Overall, it’s time to move on and after two years that time is now. It’s never easy to balance the needs of society's most vulnerable with the needs of business. We now have a bigger common challenge in living and business costs rising, which needs to be managed in a stable environment and tackled with urgency. The time to move from pandemic to endemic is now."
"I am very pleased to see the UK leading the way in getting back to normality. In my personal opinion, it is now time to move on as we have a lot of other important issues to focus on. Not least counting the absolutely mammoth costs of the lockdowns, both in terms of the economy and all other health issues which were ignored. The latter are a particular cause for concern."
After two years of pandemic rules, I can see the changes causing a lot of confusion as people try to adjust again. There will be those who feel others should wear face coverings, and those who can not get them off quick enough. There could be workers unsure of what to do if they think they have COVID but may not be paid if they stay home. At this point there are more questions than answers.
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"We are not free from Covid, so how can we embrace what's being dubbed "Covid Freedom Day"? It is too soon and outright absurd. There are still a huge number of vulnerable people who are at risk of suffering serious health issues if they were to contract Covid. I am worried that there are many who will focus on 'freedom' without a sense of social responsibility. Like many others, you can't help but think the government is throwing caution to the wind as a way to distract from Partygate."
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"As a small business owner, the ending of the self-isolation rules really is freedom day. Self-isolating as a small business owner has meant either closing the shop or imposing on friends and family to cover the shop or to post out website orders. I am, however, genuinely concerned that the free lateral flows being removed is happening too soon. My shop is a baby shop, and I know that many customers are either pregnant or are going to be visiting someone who is pregnant or has recently given birth. To not be able to test to know that my shop is a safe place to shop is concerning. I also have vulnerable friends and family, so I want to be safe around them, too. At least if I have Covid, but don't have to legally stay at home, it would be good to know and be able to serve customers at the door and warn customers in advance. "I am mostly concerned as both where I live and where the shop is located are in two areas of very low vaccine take up. Less than 70% of people where my shop is located are vaccinated and fewer than 50% are triple-vaccinated. The numbers are lower where I live. I am aware that Covid is a big risk to someone who is pregnant while understanding that there is quite a bit of vaccine hesitancy with many who are, or hope to be, pregnant."
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"Masks and self-isolation have helped cases reduce but personally I would like to see them reduce a lot more before we stop these measures as there are still deaths and hospitalisations every week. The last thing we need is cases to rise again when the economy is already facing a lot of headwinds. Many shops on the UK high street potentially couldn't survive another lockdown."
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"Covid Freedom Day is something we've all been looking forward to. But we need to know it really is safe to drop all restrictions in order to have confidence that life is returning to normal. The varying views of scientific advisers and politicians confuses the picture leaving many uncertain about what is for the best. For those struggling with poor mental health, or with conditions that suppress the immune system, this uncertainty is likely to contribute to elevated anxiety and an urge to avoid going out in the world. In this respect, Freedom Day coming too early may prove the exact opposite for some, undermining confidence to return to the workplace, damaging opportunity for progression and risking loss of earnings."
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"It finally feels like the right time to lift restrictions to help us build back our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic and the series of successive lockdowns since it started have caused a mental health epidemic, and we must now all pull together to get our collective determination focused on a brighter future."
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"My concern is that hospitality and other venues will still demand a negative test for entry. This is a perfectly reasonable request in itself but less so if they then go on to monetise testing themselves. For example, bundling event tickets with COVID passes for a 'knock-down deal'."
"Having caught Covid, and being a parent of children who've had it twice in less than 3 months, I can confirm it's a horrible virus. Even Omicron can wipe you out for a good few days. It's not something you just get over, we're all still suffering physically long after testing negative. As an owner of a small business, employer and parent I know it can cause so much disruption and stress to our lives. Stopping restrictions will just increase the spread and make that impact worse. What's so bad about doing the right thing and keeping some simple precautions such as isolating and mask wearing? I think the current government's handling of the pandemic has been completely reckless. It's not over by a long shot. They've not 'beaten it', they've given up."
"If the scientists believe that this is the right approach then we should go with it. Hopefully, people will use common sense and stay in if they feel unwell. However, I am very worried for vulnerable people, as COVID-19 still represents a significant threat to them?"