‘Freedom Day’ is just around the corner in England, when most Covid rules will end as part of the Government’s final stage of lockdown.

Legal restrictions including the compulsory wearing of face coverings in many indoor public settings will be lifted, however, Boris Johnson has urged the public to exercise “personal responsibility” as the country re-enters semi-normality.

The Government is continuing to recommend the wearing of masks in “crowded and enclosed spaces”,  and businesses will be able to set their own guidance on whether customers should cover up.

But some people are adamant that they won’t be told what to do, even as coronavirus cases continue to soar. Enter: Julia Hartley-Brewer.

The outspoken commentator and talkRadio host has directed her latest Twitter comment at Waterstones after the bookseller announced it would be encouraging visitors to “wear face masks and observe social distancing”.

She responded to the statement by threatening to boycott the high street shop, warning: “If I go into your store and a member of staff asks me to wear a mask, you will lose my business forever.”

Her remarks were met with exasperation on the social media platform, as fellow users suggested Waterstones “would live” without her custom.

Indeed, many suggested they would start shopping at the store more thanks to its responsible stance.

Here’s what commentators had to say:

Of course, Hartley-Brewer did still have plenty of backers. This time enter – you guessed it – Laurence Fox:

But, inevitably, this simply fuelled support for Waterstones:

It comes after Hartley-Brewer laid out her plans for life from July 19 without any scope for flexibility:

And yet, her approach is not condoned by either the Government or scientific experts who have warned there could be 200 deaths a day as Covid rates continue to surge.

The Prime Minister told Monday’s Downing Street press conference: “It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution and I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough: this pandemic is not over.

“This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family.

“We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday July 19 to life as it was before Covid.

“We will stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and to lift social distancing, but we expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport.”

Johnson warned that July 19 “should not be taken as an invitation by everybody simply to have a great jubilee and freedom from any kind of caution or restraint”.

He said he still hoped the road map was “irreversible” but “in order to have that, it has also got to be a cautious approach”.

In other developments, Sadiq Khan has confirmed that face coverings will continue to be mandatory on London’s transport network.

The capital’s mayor said said he was “not prepared” to put tube, tram and other transport users in the capital “at risk” by removing the rules on face coverings after “Freedom Day”.

This means that Transport for London (TfL) customers will still be legally obliged to wear masks when using tubes, buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), the Overground and TfL Rail servies.

Measures will also be put in place to help ensure the continued use of coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers unless they are exempt.

“I’ve repeatedly made clear that the simplest and safest option would have been for the Government to retain the national requirement for face coverings on public transport,” Khan said in a statement.

“I’m not prepared to stand by and put Londoners, and our city’s recovery, at risk. This is why, after careful consideration, I have decided to ask TfL to retain the requirement for passengers to wear a face covering on all TfL services when the national regulations change.

“By keeping face masks mandatory we will give Londoners and visitors the reassurance and confidence to make the most of what our city has to offer, while also protecting our heroic transport workers and those who may be vulnerable and rely on the network to get around our city.

“It’s an extra layer of protection on top of TfL’s world-leading enhanced cleaning regime – and I’m sure Londoners will continue to do the right thing as they have done throughout the pandemic, and continue to wear a face covering on TfL services.”

Maybe not in Waterstones, though...

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