IT was once again a sober Prime Minister who appeared at yesterday evening’s press conference. There was no jubilation at his liberating the nation on “freedom day”, there was no talk of victory over the virus, there no symbolic ripping up of facemasks.

The next step on the roadmap is welcome, but it is wrong to make it such a giant leap. The country knows this, just as before Christmas it knew the Government’s festive unlocking was wrong, and that ultimately ended in the Government backtracking.

Boris Johnson yesterday tried to backtrack over facemasks, saying their wearing was expected in crowded areas, but he is removing the mandatory compulsion to wear one instead relying on personal choice and personal responsibility.

But people want to know exactly where they stand, and so 70pc want facemask wearing to be mandatory for another month; 64pc until Covid is defeated worldwide.

They know that the Government is removing the authority for those ordinary people tasked with enforcing official expectations in public places; they know there is a possible confrontation between the masked and the unmasked over whose interpretation of Government expectations is correct, and they know that the most vulnerable will shield themselves away to avoid the virus and to avoid confrontation.

They also know that while a great majority of football fans exercised personal responsibility, a minority didn’t, resulting in appalling scenes, and one placed a flare up his backside. That minority need the clearest of instructions to protect the majority, and the Government’s current statement of expectations is not clear enough.