Nearly four million of the most vulnerable people enjoyed their first day of freedom yesterday when the foreclosure advice ended.
At the start of the pandemic, strict guidelines were given to 2.2 million people on how to ‘stay indoors,’ and an additional 1.7 million were bids to protect in February after scientists identified additional risk factors.
They were told to stay at home and not go to work, but only leave for medical appointments and exercise.
But now that the vast majority of those who are now protected are vaccinated and the infections are waning, millions can now go out again and begin their slow return to normalcy.
The foreclosure was enacted in March, was interrupted at the end of July and returned in January. However, many have chosen to protect almost constantly for the past year.
Now that the vast majority of those now vaccinated have been vaccinated and infections have subsided, millions can now go out again (photo file)
About 126,000 people were mistakenly approached and falsely told to foreclose during the initial lockdown, a report by the National Audit Office in February found.
It came when the extra 1.7 million were asked to stay indoors after a new model was developed that takes into account additional factors rather than just health. The calculation included risk factors such as ethnicity and weight.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people who needed to protect include those who have had a transplant, specific cancers, or serious respiratory illnesses.
Charities warned that many of those who have been indoors may feel anxious as the advice wears off.
The foreclosure was enacted in March, was interrupted at the end of July and returned in January. However, many have chosen to protect almost constantly for the past year (file photo)
Jacqueline Ali of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: ‘Most people with cystic fibrosis have now received the vaccine, but they remain extremely vulnerable clinically, so the concerns are still high.
“It is vital that the government sets out in a timely manner what measures will be taken to protect and support people with cystic fibrosis, and anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, as disabilities diminish.”
Steven McIntosh of Macmillan Cancer Support said, “It is the responsibility of the government and employers to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society remain protected while this lockdown eases.”
Jab was a weight off my shoulders
Student Lucy Baxter was excited to be spending time with her friends again after a year of protection with her parents.
The 23-year-old has cystic fibrosis, so she and her parents have occasionally been isolating at home since March last year.
Miss Baxter, who is doing a master’s degree in journalism from Salford University, spent her first day off visiting a friend yesterday.
She said, “I sat in my friend’s yard – it was exciting. I feel better because I got my first vaccination and I have my next Wednesday next, so I feel a little less nervous about meeting people outside.
Excited: Lucy Baxter, 23, was shutting down because of her cystic fibrosis. She and her parents have been isolating at home from time to time since March last year
‘The pivotal moment was when I got my vaccine. I immediately felt a pressure on my shoulders. ‘
Ms. Baxter, who lives in New Longton, Lancashire, said the foreclosure during the initial lockdown was “very, very strict.”
“It was me, my mom, and my dad alone, and they both went straight to work from home,” she said. ‘It was very difficult from March to June because we weren’t even allowed to go for a walk.
“We have a field across from the house we own and I was going to walk in there, so I was lucky to have a lot of space, but it was still difficult.”
She said the hardest part was not seeing her boyfriend properly for so long. For the first 25 weeks of the first lockdown, she only saw him when he “came outside to the house and I stayed upstairs in my bedroom window and it was a bit like Romeo and Juliet!”
She also found lockdown difficult because she is an only child and thus ‘has been with the same people for a year’.
Despite the isolation, Miss Baxter has been busy getting a first in her undergraduate degree and training as a Zumba instructor.
I felt like a prisoner in my own home
Keisha Meek felt like a prisoner in her own home when she had to stay inside.
The 29-year-old has a rare form of endometriosis to her lungs and has been on and off for the past year.
The NHS project analyst said, “It was scary. Until I had the vaccine, I panicked the whole time that I was going to get it. It has been terrifying.
Optimistic: Keisha Meek, 29, suffers from a rare form of endometriosis on her lungs and has been on and off for the past year. She had her first shot and now feels more confident going out
“If I had to screen again, I don’t think I could, it’s too much.” Miss Meek, who lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire with her partner, struggled with her mental health.
She said, “I had a breakdown in January and was taken to hospital. They gave me emergency assistance.
The initial foreclosure period in the first lockdown was the hardest to deal with.
‘The government sent me text messages telling me not to touch my trash can or to go outside. I literally felt like a prisoner in my own home. I didn’t get fresh air or anything all this time. ‘
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus grows in other places. Miss Meek has had her first shot and now feels more confident going out. She said she was looking forward to hugging her grandparents and getting her hair cut, but will remain cautious for now.