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Freedom Day: London Councils encourages residents to keep wearing masks and take regular COVID-19 tests

The formal body representing all 32 of London’s boroughs has called on the public to keep wearing masks in crowded, indoor places, warning “this is not the end of the road, but the next stage of our response to the virus”.

On Monday, July 19, the vast majority of restrictions imposed during the pandemic were lifted. 

In response, a patchwork of rules on face coverings has emerged, with Boris Johnson’s central government merely recommending they are worn as a matter of personal responsibility, while TfL and other transport organisations have said they will remain mandatory. Borough Market has also said its traders and customers will continue to wear face masks under rules enforced through its unique by-laws.

In a statement on behalf of London Councils, cllr Danny Thorpe, London Councils’ executive member for health and care, said: “London boroughs are determined to keep supporting local communities and businesses as official restrictions are eased on July 19. He also urged residents to continue to take advantage of free COVID-19 testing.

“A big thank you to everyone who has followed the rules over the past sixteen months. We really appreciate the many sacrifices you have made to keep London safe.

“This is not the end of the road, but the next stage of our response to the virus. Case rates are increasing across the country and people are still at risk of getting COVID-19 and ending up in hospital.

“Many shop workers, doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, TfL and council workers have been working throughout the pandemic, facing high levels of exposure to COVID-19. 

“We all owe it to them to continue to protect their safety by wearing masks on buses, the tube, and wherever we are asked to do so. This will also include council buildings and facilities, as well as health settings.

“Our message to London is simple: keep it on for now, and help us to protect our staff, our public sector workers and each other.

“People who are clinically vulnerable have had a very difficult time, often living in isolated conditions and dealing with high levels of anxiety about their health when travelling either to work or to medical appointments. I know that Londoners will want to support them by continuing to wear masks in crowded spaces.

“Getting vaccinated is key to protecting London in the long term. It is amazing that more than nine million vaccines have been delivered in London but there is still work to do. 

‘Boroughs will continue our efforts alongside the NHS and volunteers to ensure no one is left behind and all Londoners get their jabs.

“We are also supporting PHE London and the government in promoting testing and helping Londoners who face barriers to self-isolation if they test positive.”

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