THERE is clearly a lot of concern at the Government’s direction as it presses on to “freedom day” on Monday with the Covid figures here in the North-East reaching, literally, epidemic proportions.

While infections soar causing the Stockton festival to be cancelled, there is also a “pingdemic” as record numbers are informed by the NHS app that they should be self-isolating. This has led to Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen calling for the double jabbed to be released from the “pingdemic” because it is such a broad brush tool that is now harming business.

The Government should tear up its new guidance and start again. To allow the double jabbed to be released, we have to tighten up in other areas.

The wearing of facemasks should remain mandatory on Monday in indoor spaces and particularly on public transport and in shops and supermarkets. The Government needs to take responsibility for this and not force individual businesses to make up their own rules as they go along.

Masks are a visible reminder that we still need to be keeping our social distance, and that when we meet, we should do so in places that are either outside or well ventilated.

We need to go back to the basics of the pandemic – hands, face, space – which look likely to be the new normal for some time to come and which do not greatly harm the economy. We should not be rushing to embrace the illusory, and infectious, concept of “freedom”.