“We’re all tired but we’ve just got to keep going,” is the message from Lincolnshire’s health bosses as mask wearing appears to be in decline and COVID-19 fatigue further sets in.
It comes as there has been a noticeable decline in the number of people wearing face coverings, to protect both themselves and others by limiting transmission of the virus.
Many are sceptical of the government’s promise that Christmas will not be affected by the virus after last minute restrictions at the end of 2020.
The government this week voted in favour of reintroducing mandatory rules to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport amid fears over the new Omicron variant – however Lincoln’s MP Karl McCartney was one of those who voted against the proposals.
Despite making no comment, Mr McCartney’s Twitter feed has notable retweets and likes including Matt Gubba, who said he was “really pleased” Coop would not enforce mask mandates, and Julia Hartley-Brewer who shouted out and “saluted” Transport for London Staff who were not wearing masks.
A request by Lincoln leaders to wear a mask in all indoor areas of the Christmas Market this week was met with derision by some on The Lincolnite’s social media pages.
Simon Hearn said: “Nope won’t be happening but thanks all the same.”
Morgan Ward added: “Good luck trying to police that one.”
Others poked fun at those refusing to wear face coverings, with Sophie Lavender writing: “If all the antimaskers are now avoiding the market then I might go, won’t be as busy now.”
Lincolnshire County Council’s Director for Public Health told Local Democracy Reporters he understood people’s reluctance and fatigue with vaccines and restrictions.
However, he said there were “huge swathes” of the planet where people were unvaccinated and lots of people still with the virus, meaning the likelihood a new variant could escape the vaccines was higher.
“Everybody’s tired,” he said.
“I’m in the office at the moment with with all of our public health team and all of our health protection nurses, they’ve been going nonstop for two years, best part of.
“We’re all tired but we just got to keep going. It’s going to be a difficult winter and we need to get through.”
He said without “hands, face, space” and vaccines, there could be some “difficult decisions” around Christmas.
“Looking at the epidemiology and what is happening in Southern Africa. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more cases of Omicron as we hit Christmas.
“It just looks like that’s the nature of it. We haven’t seen a massive increase yet and we are looking for it really proactively. But I think as we go through next week and the week after, we’ll start to see a significantly larger number of cases.”
He said protections would help delay the surge as long as possible and urged people to continue getting tested with or without symptoms.