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How 'Freedom Day' Feels as Someone With Chronic Illness in the U.K.

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Monday 19 July was “Freedom Day” in England. Masks will be tossed aside, people will huddle together once more and, as if no time has passed, people will return to a form of normality we have all longed for.

But this isn’t the case for many people. Particularly, people who are vulnerable like me.

For those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, the 19th of July signifies a day of dread.

Our freedom is taken away recklessly by a government that has continually failed us. It is taken away by people who would rather remove the mild discomfort of covering their face than think of others. It is taken by pure, unabashed selfishness.

While everyone was wearing a mask and socially distancing, I felt a new sense of confidence when I left the house. After so long shielding due to my chronic illness, it was comforting to know that the risk of catching this deadly virus was minimized by everyone’s actions around me. I felt confident enough to do things I hadn’t done in over a year; to go to a pub, to meet my friends, to simply go to a shop.

But now that comfort will be stripped away.

I can already feel myself recoiling from society once more. I’m terrified of the idea of travelling on public transport, of entering a shop or even going to a hospital appointment (something I have to do to live).

Some might think I’m being selfish, thinking of my own health over their freedom. Some might think it’s cowardice that I don’t just continue living as if nothing is happening. Some might think I’m wrong.

But for one moment, before you throw away your mask, I ask you, what would you do if you were in my shoes? How would you react if you had been told countless times that a deadly virus in the world could put you in hospital, even potentially kill you at the age of 26?

What would you do?

Getty image by eric1513.

Originally published: July 23, 2021
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