James O'Brien scrutinises 'Freedom Day': 'What is the freedom here?'

19 July 2021, 15:45 | Updated: 19 July 2021, 15:59

By Fiona Jones

As today marks 'Freedom Day', James O'Brien questioned why it has been hailed as such when the public are in an "almost identical" situation to before.

July 19 has dawned in England and almost all remaining mandatory Covid restrictions have come to an end.

From today, there are no limits on how many people can meet or attend events, nightclubs can reopen, and table service will not be necessary in pubs and restaurants.

Read more: July 19 'Freedom Day': Everything you need to know - explained

However, Boris Johnson has pleaded for people to take personal responsibility in place of Government instructions, urging "prudence and respect for other people".

James reflected: "Why are they calling it Freedom Day while simultaneously telling us to carry on almost identically as we were before?"

He read out the official guidance on the NHS app, branding it "nuts": "Most Covid-19 legal restrictions have been lifted in England. You can still catch and spread Covid-19 even if you are fully vaccinated. You can continue to protect yourself and others by following the latest advice."

James reiterated: "Why have you called it Freedom Day then, if you're telling me I can still catch it, I can still pass it on, even if as I am fully vaccinated - you're telling me I should still protect myself and others by following the advice you've just freed me from having to follow?

"Are you free or are you not free? Are you free to follow, are you free to not follow? What is the freedom here?"

James questioned listeners why Freedom Day is occurring now when Covid cases in England are skyrocketing, to which one caller said it "morally exonerates" the Government from shouldering any more responsibility.

He said, "It's a terrible and shameless attempt to reposition the blame so if you get the virus next week, for example, they can now say you didn't take personal responsibility but we kept everything open for businesses."

The Prime Minister justified the move in a video he posted on Twitter: "We're doing a big opening up. If we don't do it now we'll be opening up in the autumn and winter months when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather.

"We'll lose the precious firebreak we get with the school holidays."If we don’t do it now we've got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it? This is the right moment.

"But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We've got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant."