‘Wrong time’ to end Covid rules

MOST businesses in Dorset think the government was wrong to relax the rules on measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, a poll of leaders has suggested.

Yesterday saw the majority of Covid restrictions lifted despite concerns about the impact of rising case numbers and the number of people being told to isolate.

Polls held during a Dorset Chamber event found only 28 per cent of those present thought the government was right to ease Covid security measures.

Fifty-six per cent said it was the wrong time.

The surveys at the chamber’s latest Simply Networking @9 event held online found 71 per cent would rather not shake hands or have other physical contact at business events, while 18 per cent were relaxed and 11 per cent undecided.

Seventy-eight per cent thought there was inadequate guidance for businesses regarding “freedom day” on Monday, while 62 per cent were concerned about the possibility of restrictions being reintroduced.

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “Our survey results clearly indicated that many businesses remain cautious about Covid.

“The pandemic has not disappeared and businesses in Dorset are right to remain vigilant to keep their employees and customers safe.”

The chamber is due to hold its first face-to-face networking event in nearly 18 months today.

“We considered a scheme with coloured wrist bands to indicate how comfortable people would be with contact,” said Mr Girling.

“However, to avoid any awkwardness we have asked delegates to refrain from any physical contact at all and this stance has been backed up by the survey results.”

Dorset employers have voiced concerns about a “pingdemic” as messages from the NHS Test and Trace mobile phone app forces many people to isolate.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood has called for a “clear message” from government. He said it should end the requirement to self-isolate for anyone who had received both doses of vaccination and had undergone a negative PCR test.

“If we don’t act our economy will take a hit and more and more people will simply delete the app,” he added.

Among the businesses easing its social distancing rules yesterday was Morebus, which ended seating restrictions on its vehicles.

Managing director Andrew Wickham said it was time to “cautiously embrace our newfound freedom”.

“The government has announced that wearing a face covering on public transport is no longer mandatory, and has given individuals the choice,” he added.

“We understand that this is a decision for each individual to make, but we urge our customers to consider others when travelling with us, and we strongly advise that they wear a face covering.”

Bournemouth Echo | News