One Million People Are Still Shielding From Covid in England

More than one million people in England who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus are continuing to shield even after the U.K. government stopped advising them to stay at home, research suggested.

Only 37% of the 3.7 million people in England who are classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” feel comfortable entering restaurants and bars or education settings, according to a survey of 1,066 people published by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday.

Some 29% -- the equivalent of more than one million people -- said they were still shielding, even though the government stopped advising them to do so from April 1.

Three-quarters of those who felt uncomfortable in educational, cultural or hospitality venues said mandatory wearing of face coverings would help put them at ease.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to lift the legal requirement to wear face masks in crowded spaces and on public transport, along with other pandemic restrictions on July 19. Johnson is already facing calls to rethink his plan, with scientists warning that the country is heading for a peak of infections and as many as 2,000 hospital admissions a day next month.

The ONS survey is likely to add to pressure on Johnson’s government to retain some pandemic restrictions as cases rise.

On Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said people who are extremely vulnerable should “go to the shops and pharmacy at quieter times of the day” and avoid those who are not vaccinated.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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