How will the end of restrictions affect younger people?
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected young people as dramatically as it has the rest of the population. While there has been a much lower risk of serious illness and death, uncertainty around employment has been great and education has been severely disrupted.
The government removed all Covid-related social restrictions on July 19 in England, in its bid to move away from rules and towards ‘guidance’. Depending on your perspective this is either a joyful moment or one that induces anxiety and worry.
There is now a vaccine disparity between older and younger generations. The under-30s, in particular, have not yet had the opportunity to receive their second vaccination and they face the prospect of the removal of restrictions without access to the full level of protection medical science can provide.
This reality leaves many - myself included - feeling exposed. Without either full vaccine protection or legal requirements to wear masks and observe social distancing it feels like there are few safeguards from the spread of a virus that is dependent on human proximity.
This is amplified by the fact that the sectors of retail and hospitality employ a disproportionally young workforce and customer facing roles present a higher level of risk.
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The end of the one metre rule is likely to increase the maximum capacity of venues and footfall. For example it allows for pubs to serve from the bar and tables in eating venues to be moved closer together. This would allow closer contact with a potentially larger number of patrons, all of which increase the likelihood of catching Covid when cases are already rising.
The removal of restrictions promises greater freedom and choice. But, these reclaimed rights may lead to less freedom of movement for many as case numbers grow and along with them a growing number of individuals who fall ill or are required to isolate.
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Moreover, measures are starting to be imposed that allow those with double vaccinations to enjoy greater freedoms, such as travelling back from amber countries without the need for quarantine and potentially using their status to gain access to theatres and music venues. Again these are freedoms that the under-30s are unable to take advantage of.