Tips to deal with Covid easing anxiety

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Commuters, some wearing PPE on a busy London Underground train.

TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — Covid rules have been eased in many places across the world, including in England and parts of the U.S., with rules on mask wearing, social distancing and the number of people who can meet both indoors and outdoors being relaxed.

While this easing of measures is being cheered by many, particularly younger people after almost 16 months of on-off lockdowns, lots of others are feeling anxious about the changes, particularly those with underlying medical conditions and health concerns.

Almost all restrictions were lifted in England on Monday, which was dubbed “Freedom Day” (although it had been delayed for a month due to rising Covid cases as a result of the delta variant). Meanwhile, in the U.S., the CDC eased its Covid guidelines on masks for fully vaccinated people on May 13, saying they didn’t need to use them or stay 6 feet apart, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

Many experts have criticized these relaxing of rules, saying it comes at a time when the infection rate is extremely high, especially among the under-30s. Meanwhile, lots of individuals have expressed concern for their own safety and the safety of others, particularly those who may be clinically vulnerable such as cancer patients or disabled people.

Macmillan Cancer Support was one of many charities that criticized the move to open up, and is offering advice and a support line to anyone affected. It tweeted on Monday that “despite relaxing restrictions, 1 in 5 people with cancer in England feel unable to return to normal life today.”

Tim Spector is a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London who runs the Zoe Covid Symptom study, an ongoing U.K.-based study which enables the public to enter their Covid symptoms on an app when enables scientists to then analyze the data.

On Monday, Spector and his team published seven tips to help people navigate their newfound freedoms. Here are their simple tips:

1) Respect Others

Be aware of personal space and personal choice, Spector said on Monday as “Freedom Day” dawned in England. “Some people might not be ready to hug, kiss, shake hands or reduce social distance. Don’t assume what people are comfortable with. Instead, ask them and respect their personal choices.”

This is particularly true of the choice to wear face masks, Spector noted, with the issue become something of a battleground in the U.K. and the U.S.

“With limited guidance from the government on where and when we should be wearing face covering, respect people’s choices. If wearing a mask makes someone feel safer, then they have every right to continue wearing one,” Spector said. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on people to use common sense and courtesy when it comes to masks, advising the wearing of them in crowded spaces. In the U.S. a number of states and local officials have reinstated rules on mask wearing.

2) Socialize Outside

3) Wear a mask in poorly ventilated or cramped areas

4) Keep practicing good hygiene

5) Get your second vaccine dose

6) Know all the Covid symptoms

7) Log any Covid symptoms you get

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